Do fixation cues ensure fixation accuracy in split-fovea studies of word recognition?

Timothy R Jordan, Kevin B Paterson, Stoyan Kurtev, Mengyun Xu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Many studies have claimed that hemispheric processing is split precisely at the foveal midline and so place great emphasis on the precise location at which words are fixated. These claims are based on experiments in which a variety of fixation procedures were used to ensure fixation accuracy but the effectiveness of these procedures is unclear. We investigated this issue using procedures matched to the original studies and an eye-tracker to monitor the locations actually fixated. Four common types of fixation cues were used: cross, two vertical gapped lines, two vertical gapped lines plus a secondary task in which a digit was presented at the designated fixation point, and a dot. Accurate fixations occurred on <35% of trials for all fixation conditions. Moreover, despite the usefulness often attributed to a secondary task, no increase in fixation accuracy was produced in this condition. The indications are that split-fovea theory should not assume that fixation of specified locations occurs in experiments without appropriate eye-tracking control or, indeed, that consistent fixation of specified locations is plausible under normal conditions of word recognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2004-7
    Number of pages4
    Issue number8-9
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


    • Cues
    • Fixation, Ocular
    • Functional Laterality
    • Humans
    • Pattern Recognition, Visual
    • Photic Stimulation
    • Reaction Time
    • Recognition (Psychology)
    • Visual Fields
    • Vocabulary
    • Journal Article


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