Using measures of reading time regularity (RTR) to quantify eye movement dynamics, and how they are shaped by linguistic information

J Vis. 2022 May 3;22(6):9. doi: 10.1167/jov.22.6.9.


In this article, we present the concept of reading time regularity (RTR) as a measure to capture reading process dynamics. The first study is concerned with examining one of the assumptions of RTR, namely, that process measures of reading, such as eye movement fluctuations and fixation durations, exhibit higher regularity when contingent on sequentially structured information, such as texts. To test this, eye movements of 26 German native speakers were recorded during reading-unrelated and reading-related tasks. To analyze the data, we used recurrence quantification analysis and sample entropy analysis to quantify the degree of temporal structure in time series of gaze steps and fixation durations. The results showed that eye movements become more regular in reading compared to nonreading conditions. These effects were most prominent when calculated on the basis of gaze step data. In a second study, eye movements of 27 native speakers of German were recorded for five conditions with increasing linguistic information. The results replicate the findings of the first study, verifying that these effects are not due to mere differences in task instructions between conditions. Implications for the concept of RTR and for future studies using these metrics in reading research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Linguistics
  • Saccades*
  • Time Factors