Scientists discover reading process

A British research team at the BA Festival of Science in York has revealed new findings about the mystery of how our eyes read a sentence.

It was previously believed that, both our eyes focus on the same letter of a word when we read, but Professor Simon Liversedge and his team found that this is not always the case.

The researchers revealed that almost 50% of the time, each of our eyes simultaneously lock on two different letters and our brain can join two separate images to a single clear view of a page.

The experiment showed that while reading, eyes make small jerky movements, rather than moving smoothly over the text.

"We found that in a very substantial number of fixations (periods when the eyes are still) that people make when they read, they aren't looking at the same letter", said Liversedge of Southampton University.

“Instead, the eyes often focused on different letters in the same word, about two characters apart”, he added.

"They could be uncrossed, in the sense that the two lines of sight are not crossed when you look at a word, or alternatively the two lines of sight may be crossed," he explained.

We only see one clear image because our brain fuses the different images from our eyes together, therefore we use the information from both eyes and our brain does not suppress one image to process the other.

"A comprehensive understanding of the psychological processes underlying reading is vital if we are to develop better methods of teaching children to read and offer remedial treatments for those with reading disorders such as dyslexia", concluded Professor Liversedge.

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