LATER predicts saccade latency distributions in reading

Exp Brain Res. 2007 Feb;177(2):176-83. doi: 10.1007/s00221-006-0666-5. Epub 2006 Sep 15.


When saccades are evoked by suddenly presented visual stimuli, the stochastic distribution of their reaction times is typically recinormal, in conformity with the LATER model of decision-making, sometimes with an additional sub-population of early responses. In the real world, saccades are more often spontaneous responses to static features of the visual world; nevertheless, the time between the end of one saccade and the start of the next may be regarded as a reaction time to the new image that is presented to the retina. The distribution of these times is qualitatively similar to that of evoked saccades, but typically with a longer median and more of the early responses. Here, we analyse the statistical distributions of fixation times from a large database of spontaneous saccades made while reading and show that the distributions are altered in characteristic ways by particular features of the current fixation: likely familiarity of the currently fixated word, and its proximity to the preceding fixation. These alterations are of the kind predicted by LATER: familiarity appears to influence the mean rate at which the decision signal approaches completion, whereas proximity to the previous fixation, presumably because it provides partial prior information about the upcoming word, appears to increase prior probability. We conclude that spontaneous saccades may be successfully described by the same decision-making model that can be used for evoked ones.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Normal Distribution
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reading*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*