Searching for behavioral correlates of text complexity in reading

Searching for behavioral correlates of text complexity in reading

First Author: Armanda Costa -- Universidade de Lisboa
Additional authors/chairs: 
Isabel Falé; Paula Luegi
Keywords: Reading, Fluency, eye movement control during reading, Prosody, cognitive processes
Abstract / Summary: 

Research on reading attempts to encompass the connection between linguistic proprieties of the reading materials and the cognitive processes for written language processing. Following studies on reading comprehension and fluency using either silent or oral reading, we are now deepening the relation between behavioral outputs – eye movements and prosody - collected in a reading aloud task. We conducted an experiment where 17 adult native speakers of European Portuguese were instructed to read aloud two texts. We put the hypothesis that there will be a strong connection between text complexity, integrative processes and eyes and vocal behavior. To verify the effect of reading complexity, we prepared two passages representing two poles in a scale of complexity. The texts differ in theme and vocabulary, concerning topic familiarity and word frequency, being alike in syntactic and informational structures. Eye movements were registered with an SMI IVIEW X™ HI-SPEED system, and reading speech was recorded with a Logitech® Webcam Pro 9000. First fixation, first pass and total reading time (for eye movement’s analysis), and vowel stressed duration (VSD) and F0 (for prosody analysis) were taken from two critical loci: words in a syntactic boundary (right edge of the clause) and informational boundary (before a period). Results show significant wrap-up effects in information boundaries either in an increase of first pass and total reading times, as in VSD in the most complex text. We observed eye-voice span effects triggered by words of low frequency, longer size or more complex phonological structure in both texts.