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Title: Reading direction and the central perceptual span in Urdu and English
Authors: Paterson, Kevin B.
McGowan, Victoria A.
White, Sarah J
Malik, Samee
Abedipour, Lily
Jordan, Timothy R.
First Published: 25-Feb-2014
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: PLoS One, 2014, 9 (2), pp. e88358.
Abstract: Background: Normal reading relies on the reader making a series of saccadic eye movements along lines of text, separated by brief fixational pauses during which visual information is acquired from a region of text. In English and other alphabetic languages read from left to right, the region from which useful information is acquired during each fixational pause is generally reported to extend further to the right of each fixation than to the left. However, the asymmetry of the perceptual span for alphabetic languages read in the opposite direction (i.e., from right to left) has received much less attention. Accordingly, in order to more fully investigate the asymmetry in the perceptual span for these languages, the present research assessed the influence of reading direction on the perceptual span for bilingual readers of Urdu and English. Methods and Findings: Text in Urdu and English was presented either entirely as normal or in a gaze-contingent moving- window paradigm in which a region of text was displayed as normal at the reader’s point of fixation and text outside this region was obscured. The windows of normal text extended symmetrically 0.5° of visual angle to the left and right of fixation, or asymmetrically by increasing the size of each window to 1.5° or 2.5° to either the left or right of fixation. When participants read English, performance for the window conditions was superior when windows extended to the right. However, when reading Urdu, performance was superior when windows extended to the left, and was essentially the reverse of that observed for English. Conclusion: These findings provide a novel indication that the perceptual span is modified by the language being read to produce an asymmetry in the direction of reading and show for the first time that such an asymmetry occurs for reading Urdu.
DOI Link: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088358
eISSN: 1932-6203
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Paterson et al, 2014. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Description: PMCID: PMC3934859
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Psychology

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