Eye-fixation patterns during reading confirm theories of language comprehension

Caroline Carrithers, Thomas G Bever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Eye-movement patterns during reading are consistent with proposition-by-proposition models of speech comprehension. (1) Fixation times are least affected by word length at ends of clauses: this confirms the theory based on the study of speech comprehension that, at such points, attention is directed inward to text integration. (2) Fixation time for words at the end of clauses is longer for canonical sequences which conform to the pattern, "N-V-N = actor-action-object"; this confirms the view that complete semantic integration of such sequences is routinely delayed until their completion. A two-variable model based on principles of exhaustive visual search and speech comprehension accounts for 80% of the fixation durations in a sample paragraph from Just and Carpenter (1980) and Thibadeau, just and Carpenter (1982). This comprehension-based model compares favorably with their models constructed within a production-system framework. This result clarifies the relationship between reading and listening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Linguistics and Language

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