Direct lexical control of eye movements in reading: evidence from a survival analysis of fixation durations

Eyal M. Reingold*, Erik D. Reichle, Mackenzie G. Glaholt, Heather Sheridan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Participants' eye movements were monitored in an experiment that manipulated the frequency of target words (high vs. low) as well as their availability for parafoveal processing during fixations on the pre-target word (valid vs. invalid preview). The influence of the word-frequency by preview validity manipulation on the distributions of first fixation duration was examined by using ex-Gaussian fitting as well as a novel survival analysis technique which provided precise estimates of the timing of the first discernible influence of word frequency on first fixation duration. Using this technique, we found a significant influence of word frequency on fixation duration in normal reading (valid preview) as early as 145. ms from the start of fixation. We also demonstrated an equally rapid non-lexical influence on first fixation duration as a function of initial landing position (location) on target words. The time-course of frequency effects, but not location effects was strongly influenced by preview validity, demonstrating the crucial role of parafoveal processing in enabling direct lexical control of reading fixation times. Implications for models of eye-movement control are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-206
Number of pages30
JournalCognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • eye movements
  • reading
  • lexical processing
  • word frequency
  • parafoveal preview
  • direct control
  • initial landing position
  • fixation location
  • fixation duration

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