The Effects of Text Structure on learners’ reading: A multimodal Perspective from eye-tracking

  • The fact that the eyes move is often taken for granted. 
  • Without rotating, human eyes cover a visual field of 180 degrees. 
  • Although the visual field is quite wide, only images that fall in the fovea are very sharp and colorful. 
  • The foveal area is quite small, and only spans two degrees. 
  • For sharp vision, therefore, the human eyes have to move to put different images in the foveal area.

  • When eyes move, they jump from place to place a few times per second.
  • These rapid movements are called saccades
  • Vision is mostly suppressed during saccades to prevent blurry vision. 
  • Visual information is only extracted during fixations.
  • Although there are other types of movements, saccades and fixations are the most common and of great interest to eye-tracking researchers. 
  • A great deal of research has established that where we place our gaze is typically associated with what we pay attention to and think about. 
  • This eye-mind hypothesis is the main assumption in eye-tracking research
  • However, it is good to keep in mind that a lack of fixation does not always mean lack of attention and fixation does not always indicate attention. 
  • It is just that fixations and attention coincide a lot. 
  • Visual behavior is influenced by anything that makes you look (bottom-up processing) as well as the voluntary intent to look at something (top-down processing).
  • If bottom-up factors were the only ones influencing out attention, everyone would look at the world the same way regardless of what they know or what they are trying to accomplish. 
  • Top-down factors are what complicate eye-tracking research and at the same time, what make it interesting. 
  • Town-down processing is relies on previous experience and expectations as well as the task one is attempting to accomplish. 
  • Top-down factors are responsible for differences in how different individuals look at the same thing.

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