Flexibility in the perceptual span during reading: Evidence from Mongolian

Juan Su, Guoen Yin, Xuejun Bai, Guoli Yan, Stoyan Kurtev, Kayleigh L. Warrington, Victoria A. McGowan, Simon P. Liversedge, Kevin B. Paterson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    47 Downloads (Pure)


    Readers can acquire useful information from only a narrow region of text around each fixation (the perceptual span), which extends asymmetrically in the direction of reading. Studies with bilingual readers have additionally shown that this asymmetry reverses with changes in horizontal reading direction. However, little is known about the perceptual span’s flexibility following orthogonal (vertical vs. horizontal) changes in reading direction, because of the scarcity of vertical writing systems and because changes in reading direction often are confounded with text orientation. Accordingly, we assessed effects in a language (Mongolian) that avoids this confound, in which text is conventionally read vertically but can also be read horizontally. Sentences were presented normally or in a gaze-contingent paradigm in which a restricted region of text was displayed normally around each fixation and other text was degraded. The perceptual span effects on reading rates were similar in both reading directions. These findings therefore provide a unique (nonconfounded) demonstration of perceptual span flexibility.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1566–1572
    Number of pages7
    JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
    Issue number4
    Early online date2 Jan 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


    • Eye movements during reading
    • Mongolian
    • Perceptual span
    • Vertical reading

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Sensory Systems
    • Linguistics and Language


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