About Regressive Saccades in Reading and Their Relation to Word Identification

Françoise Vitu, George W. Mcconkie, David Zola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter illustrates regressive saccades in reading and their relation to word identification. While reading, the most common pattern is that of the eyes moving forward from one word to the next, with fixations lasting for about 250 ms. Variations in this general pattern are also observed, such as the eyes skipping the next word, or making an additional fixation on the word before moving on to the next word(s). Occasionally, the eyes also return to previously read portions of the text, which correspond to what is commonly called “regressive saccades” in opposition to the more frequent “progressive saccades”. Research has been conducted to determine the extent to which this variability in ocular behavior, and particularly that associated with progressive movements, relates to ongoing processing of the encountered words and sentences. A single mechanism cannot be responsible for the variability of the ocular behavior in reading. Both higher level lexical and linguistic characteristics of the text and lower level “visuomotor” constraints and predetermined “oculomotor” scanning strategies contribute to this variability. A “regressive saccade”, on the other hand, is initiated, if a review of previously read text is necessitated to “re encode” it or further process it to deeper levels.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEye Guidance in Reading and Scene Perception
EditorsGeoffrey Underwood
PublisherElsevier Science
ISBN (Print)9780080433615
StatePublished - 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'About Regressive Saccades in Reading and Their Relation to Word Identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this