Syntactic influences on eye movements during reading

Charles Clifton and Adrian Staub

in The Oxford Handbook of Eye Movements

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199539789
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Syntactic influences on eye movements during reading

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Measuring where the eyes fixate, and for how long, has arguably been the most valuable way of exploring the time-course of comprehending written sentences. This chapter reviews some of the history of the method’s use as well as some recent developments. It provides an extensive review of what eye movement measurement has told us about the syntactic processing of sentences, covering topics such as syntactic ambiguity, syntactic ambiguity resolution, retrieval from memory, syntactic prediction, and syntactic complexity. Alternative models for how syntactic and extra-syntactic information sources are integrated are discussed. The chapter then turns to a discussion of what the eyes actually do in response to syntactic processing complexity, and provides a brief review of models of eye movement control. It concludes by comparing eye movement measurement with other methods of measuring online sentence comprehension processes.

Keywords: eye movement; syntactic prediction; syntactic processing; reading; syntactic ambiguity resolution

Article.  10456 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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