Rethinking parafoveal processing in reading

serial-attention models can explain semantic preview benefit and N+2 preview effects

Elizabeth R. Schotter, Erik D. Reichle, Keith Rayner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


During reading, some information about the word to the right of fixation in the parafovea is typically acquired prior to that word being fixated. Although some degree parafoveal processing is uncontroversial, its precise nature and extent are unclear. For example, can it advance up to the level of semantic processing? Additionally, can it extend across more than two spatially adjacent words? Affirmative answers to either of these questions would seemingly be problematic for serial-attention models of eye-movement control in reading, which maintain that attention is allocated to only one word at a time (see Reichle, 2011). However, in this paper we report simulation results using one such model, E-Z Reader (Reichle, Pollatsek, Fisher, & Rayner, 1998), to examine the two preceding questions. These results suggest the existence of both semantic preview and N+2 preview effects, indicating that they are not incompatible with serial-attention models. We discuss the implications of these findings for models of eye-movement control in reading and provide a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing parafoveal processing during reading and its influence on eye movement behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-333
Number of pages25
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • semantic preview benefit
  • N+2
  • preview benefit
  • models of eye movement control
  • reading

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