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Reading and Visual Search: A Developmental Study in Normal Children

Abstract : Studies dealing with developmental aspects of binocular eye movement behaviour during reading are scarce. In this study we have explored binocular strategies during reading and during visual search tasks in a large population of normal young readers. Binocular eye movements were recorded using an infrared video-oculography system in sixty-nine children (aged 6 to 15) and in a group of 10 adults (aged 24 to 39). The main findings are (i) in both tasks the number of progressive saccades (to the right) and regressive saccades (to the left) decreases with age; (ii) the amplitude of progressive saccades increases with age in the reading task only; (iii) in both tasks, the duration of fixations as well as the total duration of the task decreases with age; (iv) in both tasks, the amplitude of disconjugacy recorded during and after the saccades decreases with age; (v) children are significantly more accurate in reading than in visual search after 10 years of age. Data reported here confirms and expands previous studies on children's reading. The new finding is that younger children show poorer coordination than adults, both while reading and while performing a visual search task. Both reading skills and binocular saccades coordination improve with age and children reach a similar level to adults after the age of 10. This finding is most likely related to the fact that learning mechanisms responsible for saccade yoking develop during childhood until adolescence.
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Magali Seassau, Maria-Pia Bucci. Reading and Visual Search: A Developmental Study in Normal Children. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (7), pp.e70261. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0070261⟩. ⟨hal-03150034⟩

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