What is it about?

Reading is an indispensable skill in modern society that allows people to acquire new information. We have shown for the first time that unexpected sound in the readers' environment can influence how they move their eyes during reading. More particularly, we found that when readers hear an unexpected sound, they spend more time inspecting the word they are currently looking at. This may occur because the unexpected sound temporarily "freezes" their eyes, and delays the movement of the eyes to the next word in the text.

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Why is it important?

This study explores how unexpected sounds may influence human performance on one essential everyday task (reading). This is important as most previous studies on the topic have used simple laboratory tasks that may have more limited real-world application. Additionally, this is one of the only few studies to explore how unexpected sounds affect the way people move their eyes.


I hope that this study will stimulate more research into how unexpected sounds influence the way people control their eyes during natural and important everyday tasks, such as reading, searching for objects, or viewing images. In the future, I also hope to expand this work by considering how distraction observed during eye movements is generated by the brain.

Martin R. Vasilev
Bournemouth University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Distraction by deviant sounds during reading: An eye-movement study, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, January 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1747021818820816.
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