Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2010 | 6 | 79-87

Article title

Effects of syntactic context on eye movements during reading

Selected contents from this journal

Title variants

Languages of publication


Previous research has demonstrated that properties of a currently fixated word and of adjacent words influence eye movement control in reading. In contrast to such local effects, little is known about global effects on eye movement control, for example global adjustments caused by processing difficulty of previous sentences. In the present study, participants read text passages in which voice (active vs. passive) and sentence structure (embedded vs. non-embedded) were manipulated. These passages were followed by identical target sentences. The results revealed effects of previous sentence structure on gaze durations in the target sentence, implying that syntactic properties of previously read sentences may lead to a global adjustment of eye movement control.






Physical description


  • Institute of Psychology, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • Institute of Psychology, RWTH Aachen University, Germany


  • American Psychological Association. (2001).Publication manual(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Balota, D. A., Pollatsek, A., & Rayner, K. (1985). The interaction of contextual constraints and parafoveal visual information in reading.Cognitive Psychology, 17, 364-390.
  • Branigan, H. (2007). Syntactic priming.Language and Linguistics Compass, 1, 1-16.
  • Branigan, H. P., Pickering, M. J., & McLean, J. F. (2005). Priming prepositional-phrase attachment during comprehension.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 468-481.
  • Caplan, D., Alpert, N., & Waters, G. (1998). Effects of syntactic structure and propositional number on patterns of regional cerebral blood flow.Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 10, 541-552.
  • Carrithers, C. (1989). Syntactic complexity does not necessarily make sentences harder to understand.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 18, 75-88.
  • Clifton, C., Staub, A., & Rayner, K. (2007). Eye movements in reading words and sentences. In R. van Gompel (Ed.),Eye movements: A window on mind and brain(pp. 341-372). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Coleman, E. B. (1965). Learning of prose written in four grammatical transformations.Journal of Applied Psychology, 49, 332-334.
  • Ehrlich, S. F., & Rayner, K. (1981). Contextual effects on word recognition and eye movements during reading.Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 20, 641-655.
  • Engbert, R., Nuthmann, A., Richter, E. M., & Kliegl, R. (2005). SWIFT: A dynamical model of saccade generation during reading.Psychological Review, 112, 777-813.
  • Frazier, L., Munn, A., & Clifton, C. (2000). Processing coordinate structures.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 29, 343-371.
  • Frazier, L., Taft, L., Roeper, T., Clifton, C., & Ehrlich, K. (1984). Parallel structure: A source of facilitation in sentence comprehension.Memory and Cognition, 12, 421-430.
  • Gibson, E. (1998). Linguistic complexity: Locality of syntactic dependencies.Cognition, 68, 1-76.
  • Groeben, N., & Christmann U. (1989). Textoptimierung unter Verständlichkeitsperspektive [Optimising text with respect to comprehensibility]. In G. Antos & H. P. Krings (Eds.),Textproduktion. Ein interdiziplinärer Forschungsüberblick [Text production. An interdisciplinary research survey].Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  • Heller, D. (1982). Eye movements in reading. In R. Groner & P. Fraisse (Eds.),Cognition and eye movements(pp. 139-154). Amsterdam: North Holland.
  • Huestegge, L., Radach, R., Corbic, D., & Huestegge, S. M. (2009). Oculomotor and linguistic determinants of reading development: A longitudinal study.Vision Research, 49, 2948-2959.
  • Hyönä, J., Lorch, R. F., & Kaakinen, J. K. (2002). Individual differences in reading to summarize expository text: Evidence from eye fixation patterns.Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 44-55.
  • Just, M. A., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). A theory of reading: From eye fixations to comprehension.Psychological Review, 87, 329-354.
  • Kennedy, A., & Pynte, J. (2005). Parafoveal-on foveal effects in normal reading.Vision Research, 45, 153-168.
  • Kennison, S. M., & Clifton, C. (1995). Determinants of parafoveal preview benefit in high and low working memory capacity readers: Implications for eye movement control.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 68-81.
  • Kliegl, R., Nuthmann, A., & Engbert, R. (2006). Tracking the mind during reading: The influence of past, present, and future words on fixation durations.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 12-35.
  • Morris, R. K. (1994). Lexical and message-level sentence context effects on fixation times in reading.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 92-103.
  • O'Regan, K., & Levy-Schoen, A. (1987). Eye movement strategy and tactics in word recognition and reading. In M. Coltheart (Ed.),Attention and Performance XII: The psychology of reading(pp. 329-348). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Pynte, J., & Kennedy, A. (2006). An influence over eye movements in reading exerted from beyond the level of the word: Evidence from reading English and French.Vision Research, 46, 3786-3801.
  • Radach, R., Huestegge, L., & Reilly, R. (2008). The role of globaltop-down factors in local eye-movement control in reading.Psychological Research, 72, 675-688.
  • Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 years of research.Psychological Bulletin, 124, 372-422.
  • Rayner, K. (2009). Eye movements and attention in reading, scene perception, and visual search.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 1457-1506.
  • Rayner, K., Chase, K. H., Slattery, T. J., & Ashby, J. (2006). Eye movements as reflections of comprehension processes in reading.Scientific Studies of Reading, 10, 241-255.
  • Rayner, K., & Duffy, S. (1986). Lexical complexity and fixation times in reading: Effects of word frequency, verb complexity, and lexical ambiguity.Memory and Cognition, 14, 191-201.
  • Rayner, K., & Juhasz, B. (2004). Eye movements in reading: Old questions and new directions.European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 16, 340-352.
  • Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (1989).The psychology of reading.Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Rayner, K., Warren, T., Juhasz, B. J., & Liversedge, S. P. (2004). The effect of plausibility on eye movements in reading.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 30, 1290-1301.
  • Reichle, E. D., Liversedge, S. P., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2009). Encoding multiple words simultaneously in reading is implausible.Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 115-119.
  • Reichle, E. D., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2003). The E-Z Reader model of eye movement control in reading: Comparisons to other models.Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 446-526.
  • Reichle, E. D., Warren, T., & McConnell, K. (2009). Using E-Z reader to model the effects of higher level language processes on eye movements during reading.Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 16, 1-21.
  • Reilly, R., & Radach, R. (2006). Some empirical tests of an interactive activation model of eye movement control in reading.Cognitive Systems Research, 7, 34-55.
  • Slattery, T. J., Pollatsek, A., & Rayner, K. (2007). The effect of the frequency of three consecutive content words on eye movements during reading.Memory and Cognition, 35, 1283-1292.
  • Staub, A., & Clifton, C. (2006). Syntactic prediction in language comprehension: Evidence from either…or. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 425-436.
  • Strunk, W., & White, E. B. (1918/1999).The elements of style.Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Vauras, M., Hyönä, J., & Niemi, P. (1992). Comprehending coherent and incoherent texts: Evidence from eye movement patterns and recall performance.Journal of Research in Reading, 15, 39-54.

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.