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The eye movements of pure alexic patients during reading and nonreading tasks
We compared the eye-movements of two patients who read letter-by-letter (LBL) following a left occipital lobe lesion with those of normal control subjects and of hemianopic patients in two tasks: a nonreading visual search task and a text reading task. Whereas the LBL readers exhibited similar eye-movement patterns to those of the other two groups on the nonreading task, their eye movements differed significantly during reading, as reflected in the disproportionate increase in the number and duration of fixations per word and in the regressive saccades per word. Importantly, relative to the two control groups, letter-by-letter readers also made more fixations per word as word length increased, especially as word frequency and word imageability decreased. Two critical results emerged from these experiments: First, the alteration in the oculomotor behavior of the LBL readers during reading is similar to that seen in normal readers under difficult reading conditions, as well as in beginning readers and in those with developmental dyslexia, and appears to reflect difficulties in processing the visual stimulus. Second, the interaction of length with frequency and with imageability in determining the eye movement pattern is consistent with an interactive activation model of normal word recognition in which weakened activation of orthographic input can nevertheless engage high-level lexical factors.