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Article

Can the Eye-Mind Connection Be Broken in the Visual World Paradigm?

Journal of Eye Movement Research. 2017. Vol. 10. No. 6. P. 141-141.

Visual world studies demonstrate that auditory linguistic cues trigger saccades to the referent (Huettig et al., 2011; Knoeferle and Guerra, 2016). Interestingly, eye movement experiments in maintained fixation show that participants can effectively suppress their saccades (Kowler, 2011). We investigated to what extent referential relationships (nouns and pronouns) determine eye movements. We conducted two visual world experiments with the same set of sentences and pictures: in the first, the participants were implicitly allowed free inspection of the visual scene while listening to a story. In the second, they were asked to not look at the picture that the narrator was speaking about. The second group of participants lessened saccades to referent pictures (Est.= -2.55, SE=0.17, p=0.001).

Additionally, in the second experiment the probability of fixating an object referred to with a pronoun did not decrease as much as the probability of fixating an object referred to with a noun (Est.= -0.89, SE=0.28, p=0.01): the participants were less able to control their eye movements when hearing a pronoun. Therefore, processing indirect nominations is more effortful, people are searching for more information and use visual context to determine a referent.

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