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Method of Reading Discovered 181

Scientists have discovered that the method our eyes use to process letters on a page is different than previously believed. Instead of assimilating one letter at a time our eyes actually lock on to two different letters simultaneously about half the time. "The team's results demonstrated that both eyes lock on to the same letter 53% of the time; for 39% of the time they see different letters with uncrossed eyes; and for 8% of the time the eyes are crossing to focus on different letters. A follow-up experiment with the eye-tracking equipment showed that we only see one clear image when reading because our brain fuses the different images from our eyes together."
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Method of Reading Discovered

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  • Baloney. If we can read that it's because we are already good readers. "Whole Language" is where good readers end up, but that's not how we learn to BECOME good readers.

    Seriously, try this one, Mr. Wizard:

    "Atluds nveer tkae tmie to tnihk aoubt how to pcnuonore the iaudividnl wdros; tehy jsut sacn anolg at a vrey fsat cilp and triehr bniars tkae crae of the "bnikaerg-dwon" of the pmargonohs allacitamotuy and aletaruccy. Hevewor, ttha's atluds who lenraed to raed wtih pcinohs. Atluds who rley olny on shgit-rgnidaeg teuqinhces rleray gnia mcuh foitcnun, and boy, deos taht sohw in our steicoy tadoy, wtih rlevitaley low lleves of lcaretiy cerapmod to gnoitarenes psat. Cerdlihn tadoy, who dno't hvae pcinohs ioitcurtsnn, are bllacisay gnisseug at waht wdros maen, and it swohs in enihtyrevg form sezidradnatd tset serocs to lcaretiy deicneicifes in the wcalpkroe."
    From []

    Y Hole Langwidg Seams OK

    [...] Adults never take time to think about how to pronounce the individual words; they just scan along at a very fast clip and their brains take care of the "breaking down" of the phonograms automatically and accurately. However, that's adults who learned to read with phonics. Adults who rely only on sight-reading techniques rarely gain much function, and boy, does that show in our society today, with relatively low levels of literacy compared to generations past. Children today, who don't have phonics instruction, are basically guessing at what words mean, and it shows in everything from standardized test scores to literacy deficiencies in the workplace.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:33PM (#20541479)
    Debunked [] here but still interesting.
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:38PM (#20541589) Homepage Journal
    Here's a decent rundown of the thing [] it made the front page here at the dot - though I'm having a tougher time tracking that down.
  • by nganju ( 821034 ) on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:44PM (#20541687)
    Very true. Interesting discussion of that whole "Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabridge" thing below, which largely debunks their claims. [] []
  • No. NO. (Score:4, Informative)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:51PM (#20541801)
    OK, I'm hoping the real article is not nearly as silly as this blurb. I'm sure it talks about this situation in more reasonable terms. But the blurb focuses on eye position and implies that it has meaning on a letter level.

    While the issue of eye position is interesting, we are NOT focusing on a letter. We are not reading letters, much less looking at them.

    Hold you arm out. Raise your thumb. Look at it. The space of the back of your thumb, at that distance is special. That's your fovea -- the area of your eye which has the greatest acuity. When you read, depending on font size and text distance, that area covers multiple lines of text, and usually more than one word. Focusing on a letter means picking that letter as a point in the text, and seeing the areas around it.

    A strong reader is picking up both the words below and left and right of the word he/she is reading at that fraction of a second.

    Yes, it's interesting to ask where we fixate. Yes, it's VERY interesting that we go crosseyed and that begs the question of whether we do it systematically to reduce the amount of new data which is common in both foveas, either to increase speed by processing both independently, or to reduce the amount in common and thus reduce the load that reading takes (you'd possibly see that in a "difficult" or unfamiliar word). However, we do NOT look at letters. They're just a spot.

    Someone asked here about other languages, do we do the same thing for Kanji, Hangul, etc.? Is suspect that things might be different there, as I suspect that this behavior that they've found is strongly connected with syllable boundaries in English. However, eye-trackers are notoriously inaccurate (unless you're willing to have a coil surgically implanted in your eye, and even then, it ain't fantastic) and so their letter accuracy information must come from AVERAGES ACROSS MULTIPLE OBSERVATIONS. This should lead us to ask what their dataset was and what behavior they saw on specific character clusters. (That, in turn leads us to question if they got enough data to get much accuracy on those clusters.)

    It would be nice to see the original article, as opposed to this fluff piece.
  • by necro2607 ( 771790 ) on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:58PM (#20541917)
    Ahh OK for the record, Cambridge University didn't do any of this alleged research [], according to Matt Davis, a "cognitive neuroscientist interested in language" working in the Cognition and Brain Science unit at Cambridge. Read the link for further details, and a lot more interesting analysis/discussion on this same phenomenon in other languages and whatnot. :)
  • Re:Frsit Psot (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Monday September 10, 2007 @02:24PM (#20542283) Journal

    Yeah, I can tell what it's intended to say, but it still doesn't mean I'd accept stuff like that. It's almost as bad as text-message writing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2007 @09:01PM (#20547283)
    People who get very good at reading recognise whole words and phrases at once. this gives very fast accurate reading. Unfortunately educators decided since this was how the best readers read, they should teach it that way. That turns out not to be the case. Learners are better to start by learning that each letter represents a sound and sounding things out, eg the phonics approach. Then with practice they develope the whole word method. This is comparable to the progression of first crawling, then walking, then running...apparently the crawling approach is important in the whole process.

    We should also attempt to maintain a reasonably phonetic spelling system, since being able to make a good stab at pronouncing words you have never met before is useful.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.