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During reading, eye movement patterns differ between children and adults. Children make more fixations that are longer in duration and make shorter saccades. Return-sweeps are saccadic eye movements that move a reader's fixation to a new line of text. Return-sweeps move fixation further than intra-line saccades and often undershoot their target. This necessitates a corrective saccade to bring fixation closer to the start of the line. There have been few empirical investigations of return-sweep saccades in adults, and even fewer in children. In the present study, we examined return-sweeps of 47 adults and 48 children who read identical multiline texts. We found that children launch their return-sweeps closer to the end of the line and target a position closer to the left margin. Therefore, children fixate more extreme positions on the screen when reading for comprehension. Furthermore, children required a corrective saccade following a return-sweep more often than adults. Analysis of the duration of the fixation preceding the corrective saccade indicated that children are as efficient as adults at responding to retinal feedback following a saccade. Rather than consider differences in adult's and children's return-sweep behaviour an artefact of oculomotor control, we believe that these differences represent adult's ability to utilise parafoveal processing to encode text at extreme positions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.visres.2018.12.007

Type

Journal article

Journal

Vision Res

Publication Date

02/2019

Volume

155

Pages

35 - 43

Keywords

Children, Eye movements, Oculomotor control, Reading, Return-sweep saccades, Adolescent, Adult, Child, Female, Fixation, Ocular, Humans, Male, Oculomotor Muscles, Reading, Saccades, Young Adult