There are roughly two lines of theory to account for recent evidence that word processing is influenced by adjacent orthographic information. One line assumes that multiple words can be processed simultaneously through a parallel graded distribution of visuo-spatial attention. The other line assumes that attention is strictly directed to single words, but that letter detectors are connected to both foveal and parafoveal feature detectors, as such driving parafoveal-foveal integrative effects. Putting these two accounts to the test, we build on recent research showing that the pupil responds to the brightness of covertly attended (i.e., without looking) locations in the visual field. Experiment 1 showed that foveal target word processing was facilitated by related parafoveal flanking words when these were positioned to the left and right of the target, but not when these were positioned above and below the target. Perfectly in line with this asymmetry, in Experiment 2 we found that the pupil size was contingent with the brightness of the locations of horizontally but not vertically aligned flankers, indicating that attentional resources were allocated to those words involved in the parafoveal-on-foveal effect. We conclude that orthographic parafoveal-on-foveal effects are driven by parallel graded attention.
- PARAFOVEAL ORTHOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
- WORD RECOGNITION