Evaluating a split processing model of visual word recognition: Effects of word length

Michal Lavidor, Andrew W. Ellis, Richard Shillcock, Trevor Bland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


A new theory of visual word recognition is based on the fact that the fovea is split in humans. When a reader fixates the center of a written word, the initial letters of the word that are to the left of fixation are projected first to the right cerebral hemisphere (RH) while the final letters are projected to the left cerebral hemisphere (LH). This paper explores the possibility that this has consequences for the early processing of the beginning and ends of centrally fixated words: specifically that lexical decision RTs are affected by the number of letters to the left of fixation but not by the number of letters to the right of fixation. For centrally presented five- and eight-letter words, we manipulated number of letters presented to the right or to the left of a fixation point (Experiment 1). We found that longer latencies to longer letter strings characterised the processing of the initial letters of words while LH word recognition features characterised the ends of words. Experiment 2 was a lateralized version of Experiment 1, and revealed the well established visual field and word length interaction. The results supported the split fovea theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the European commission, Marie Curie fellowship grant, contract no. HPMF-CT-1999-00205.


  • Nasotemporal overlap
  • Optical viewing position
  • Split fovea
  • Visual word recognition
  • Word length


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