Effects of Spatial Frequencies on Word Identification by Fast and Slow Readers: Evidence from Eye Movements

Timothy R Jordan, Jasmine Dixon, Victoria A McGowan, Stoyan Kurtev, Kevin B Paterson

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent research has shown that differences in the effectiveness of spatial frequencies for fast and slow skilled adult readers may be an important component of differences in reading ability in the skilled adult reading population (Jordan et al., 2016a). But the precise nature of this influence on lexical processing during reading remains to be fully determined. Accordingly, to gain more insight into the use of spatial frequencies by skilled adult readers with fast and slow reading abilities, the present study looked at effects of spatial frequencies on the processing of specific target words in sentences. These target words were of either high or low lexical frequency and each sentence was displayed as normal or filtered to contain only very low, low, medium, high, or very high spatial frequencies. Eye movement behavior for target words was closest to normal for each reading ability when text was shown in medium or higher spatial frequency displays, although reading occurred for all spatial frequencies. Moreover, typical word frequency effects (the processing advantage for words with higher lexical frequencies) were observed for each reading ability across a broad range of spatial frequencies, indicating that many different spatial frequencies provide access to lexical representations during textual reading for both fast and slow skilled adult readers. Crucially, however, target word fixations were fewer and shorter for fast readers than for slow readers for all display types, and this advantage for fast readers appeared to be similar for normal, medium, high, and very high spatial frequencies but larger for low and very low spatial frequencies. Therefore, although fast and slow skilled adult readers can both use a broad range of spatial frequencies when reading, fast readers make more effective use of these spatial frequencies, and especially those that are lower, when processing the identities of words.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1433
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is under a CC-BY, version 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) license.
This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission.


  • eye movements during reading
  • spatial frequencies
  • reading comprehension
  • reading
  • word
  • recognition
  • reading ability
  • reading speed


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