Occurrence and Function of Very Short Fixation Durations in Reading

  • Ralph Radach
  • Dieter Heller
  • Albrecht Inhoff


Fixation durations during reading range from less than 50 ms to more than 1 second with means in the order of 220 ms to 250 ms and standard deviations of approximately 80 ms to 100 ms. An interesting property of frequency distributions of fixation duration is the gradual increase in the relative frequencies up to approximately 140 ms followed by a much steeper increase for longer fixation durations until the modal fixation duration interval is reached. According to McConkie et al. (1994), this change in the slope of frequency distributions is of functional significance: The duration of fixations of 140 ms or less is determined by information obtained during the pior fixation, the duration of longer fixations is controlled ‘on line’, by properties of fixated text so that departing saccades can be “directly controlled”.


Fixation Duration Corrective Saccade Express Saccade Scene Perception Short Fixation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Becker W (1989) Metrics. In: Wurtz RH, Goldberg ME (eds.) The Neurobiology of Saccadic Eye Movements. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 13–61Google Scholar
  2. Becker W Jürgens R (1979) An analysis of the saccadic system by means of double step stimuli. Vision Res 19: 967–983PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biscaldi M, Fischer B (1994) Saccadic eye movements of dyslectics in non-cognitive tasks. In: Ygge J Lenner-strand G (eds) Eye Movements in Reading. Pergamon, Oxford, pp 245–259Google Scholar
  4. Biscaldi M, Fischer B, Aiple F (1994) Saccadic eye movements of dyslexic and normal reading children. Perception 23: 45–64PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dearborn W F (1906) The psychology of reading. Archives of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific MethodsGoogle Scholar
  6. Deubel H (1984) The evaluation of the oculomotor error signal. In: Gale A., Johnson G. (eds) Theoretical and Applied Aspects of Eye Movement Research. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 55–62Google Scholar
  7. Findlay, J Harris, R (1984) Small Saccades to Double-Stepped Targets Moving in two Dimensions. In: Gale A, Johnson G (eds) Theoretical and Applied Aspects of Eye Movement Research. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 71–78Google Scholar
  8. Fischer, B (1992) Saccadic reaction time: implications for reading, dyslexia and visual cognition. In Rayner K (ed) Eye movements and visual cognition. Scene perception and reading. Springer, New York, pp 31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fischer B, Weber H (1993) Express Saccades and Visual Attention. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16: 553–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heller D (1982) Eye movements in reading. In: Groner R, Fraisse P (eds) Cognition and Eye Movements. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin, pp 139–154Google Scholar
  11. Heller D, Radach R (1992) Returning to an unanswered question: On the role of corrective saccades in text reading (Abstract). International Journal of Pychology 27: 55Google Scholar
  12. Hofmeister J (1997) über Korrektursakkaden beim Lesen von Texten und bei leseähnlichen Aufgaben. (On corrective saccades in reading and reading-like tasks.) Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, AachenGoogle Scholar
  13. Hogaboam (1983) Reading patterns in eye movement data. In: Rayner K (ed) Eye Movements in Reading. Perceptual and Language Processes. Academic Press, New York, pp 309–332Google Scholar
  14. Inhoff A Topolski R Vitu F, O’Regan K (1993) Attention demands during reading and the occurrence of brief (express) fixations. Perception & Psychophysics 54: 814–823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McConkie GW, Kerr PW, Dyre BP (1994) What are ‘normal’ eye movements during reading: Toward a mathematical description. In: Ygge J, Lennerstrand G (eds), Eye movements in reading. Pergamon, Oxford, pp 315–328Google Scholar
  16. McConkie GW, Underwood NR, Zola, D, Wolverton, GS (1985) Some temporal characteristics of processing during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 11:168–186PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Morrison RE (1984) Manipulation of stimulus onset delay in reading: Evidence for parallel programming of sac-cades. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 10: 667–682PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. O’Regan JK (1990) Eye movements and reading. In: Kowler E (ed) Reviews of oculomotor research: Vol.4. Eye Movements and Their Role in Visual and Cognitive Processes. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 395–453Google Scholar
  19. Radach R, McConkie G (1998) Determinants of fixation positions in reading. In: Underwood G (ed) Eye guidance in reading and scene perception. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 77–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rayner K, Reichle E D, Pollatsek A (1998) Eye movement control in reading: An overview and a model. In Underwood G (ed) Eye guidance in reading and scene perception. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 243–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Vitu F, McConkie G (1998) On regressive saccades in reading. In: Underwood G (ed) Eye guidance in reading and scene perception. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 101–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Radach
    • 1
  • Dieter Heller
    • 1
  • Albrecht Inhoff
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyTechnical University of AachenAachenGermany
  2. 2.University CenterState University of New York at BinghamtonBinghamtonUSA

Personalised recommendations