Eye Movements Reveal Interplay Between Noun Capitalization and Word Class During Reading

Abstract

Subjects' eye movements were recorded while they read sentences for comprehension. Sentences were presented with capitalized nouns—in agreement with German spelling rules—or completely in lowercase. Overall reading speed was not influenced by the manipulation of capitalization, but fixation durations were affected by the interplay between capitalization and the word classes of the fixated and the succeeding word. As expected, fixations were shorter for capitalized than lowercase nouns, but unexpectedly they were longer when the upcoming word was also a noun. This modulation was reduced when all words were printed completely in lowercase. We interpret the results as evidence for distributed processing across several words.


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