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Lori A. Lott, Marilyn E. Schneck, Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy, Susan Hewlett, John A. Brabyn; The Role of Context and Eye Movements in Reading in Elders with "Good" Acuity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):1908. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We have previously presented results on reading performance in elderly observers using tests that differed in the extent to which the reading material contained contextual information and required eye movements. The purpose of the present study is to re-evaluate the relative contributions of these variables in an additional sample of older readers using an important additional test condition. Specifically, we have included a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task requiring no eye movements, which also lacks contextual information (random RSVP) .
Subjects were 21 elderly individuals (mean age = 79.1 yrs) with near high contrast acuity better than 20/32 equivalent (≤ 0.20 logMAR) who participated in the fifth phase of the Smith-Kettlewell Institute (SKI) Longitudinal Study. All completed an extensive battery of vision tests and a cognitive screening test (mental alternation test: MAT). Reading rates in correct words per minute (wpm) were measured with three different tests: the Pepper Visual Skills for Reading test, MNRead test, and rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) tests. The RSVP reading tests consisted of: 1) random words similar to the Pepper test, and 2) sentences similar to the MNRead at the same print size (1M) and 0.1 log unit larger (1.3 M) as the Pepper test. Demographic information, and data on medical and eye health status were also collected. Unlike the Pepper test and the random word RSVP test, the MNRead and sentence RSVP tests provide contextual information and RSVP sentences are presented one word at a time on a monitor, which does not require eye movements.
Median reading rates measured by the MNREAD (182.9 wpm) and all three versions of the RSVP tests were significantly faster than those obtained with the Pepper test (90.0 wpm). However, MNRead was not significantly different from the random RSVP (163.9 wpm), nor did the difference between RSVP_1.0 M (386.5 wpm) and RSVP_1.3 M (394.7 wpm) size tests attain statistical significance in this sample of elders with good high contrast acuity.
In agreement with previous research, adding context and eliminating the need for eye movements both improve reading performance in elderly observers. This study provides further support for the hypothesis that context and eye movements provide approximately equal contributions to reading performance.
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