Fixation-related NIRS during reading.

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Fixation-related NIRS indexes retinotopic occipital processing of parafoveal preview during natural reading.

Abstract
While word frequency and predictability effects have been examined extensively, any evidence on interactive effects as well as parafoveal influences during whole sentence reading remains inconsistent and elusive. Novel neuroimaging methods utilize eye movement data to account for the hemodynamic responses of very short events such as fixations during natural reading. In this study, we used the rapid sampling frequency of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to investigate neural responses in the occipital and orbitofrontal cortex to word frequency and predictability. We observed increased activation in the right ventral occipital cortex when the fixated word N was of low frequency, which we attribute to an enhanced cost during saccade planning. Importantly, unpredictable (in contrast to predictable) low frequency words increased the activity in the left dorsal occipital cortex at the fixation of the preceding word N-1, presumably due to an upcoming breach of top-down modulated expectation. Opposite to studies that utilized a serial presentation of words (e.g. Hofmann et al., 2014), we did not find such an interaction in the orbitofrontal cortex, implying that top-down timing of cognitive subprocesses is not required during natural reading. We discuss the implications of an interactive parafoveal-on-foveal effect for current models of eye movements.

PMID: 32289457 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Neuroimage. 2020 Apr 11;:116823

Authors: Roelke A, Vorstius C, Radach R, Hofmann MJ

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