Processing and memory of central versus peripheral information as a function of reading goals: evidence from eye-movements

Menahem Yeari, Paul van den Broek, Marja Oudega

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Scopus citations


    The present study examined the effect of reading goals on the processing and memory of central and peripheral textual information. Using eye-tracking methodology, we compared the effect of four common reading goals—entertainment, presentation, studying for a close-ended (multiple-choice) questions test, and studying for an open-ended questions test—on the specific reading time of central and peripheral information and the overall reading time of expository texts. Text memory was tested using multiple-choice questions. Results showed that readers devoted more time to central information than peripheral information during initial reading, regardless of reading goal, but that they adjusted their rereading to the reading goal, with total reading time being longer for central information under some (entertainment and presentation) but not all (open-ended and close-ended questions tests) reading goals. Moreover, readers devoted more time to reading the texts for a study purpose (test or presentation) than for an entertainment purpose, and devoted more time in reading the texts to answer open-ended questions than close-ended questions. Finally, we found that readers remembered more central information than peripheral information under all reading goals. These findings suggest that centrality affects readers’ early processing of text whereas reading goals only affect subsequent processing. Interestingly, processing time during reading predicted memory for peripheral information but not for central information.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1071-1097
    Number of pages27
    JournalReading and Writing
    Issue number8
    Early online date24 Mar 2015
    StatePublished - 28 Oct 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


    This research was supported by grant PIEF-GA-2009-254607-IEF of the European Union to Menahem Yeari. Facilities for conducting the research were provided by the Brain and Education Lab, the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, and by the Department of Education in Leiden University. We thank Eva Leusink, Sanne Rovers, and Manon Uijttewaal for help in setting up and running the experiments.

    FundersFunder number
    European Commission


      • Centrality
      • Close-ended questions
      • Eye tracking
      • Online processing
      • Open-ended questions
      • Reading goals
      • Reading time
      • Text memory


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