Sensory and cognitive influences on the training-related improvement of reading speed in peripheral vision

Yingchen He, Gordon E. Legge, Deyue Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reading speed in normal peripheral vision is slow but can be increased through training on a letter-recognition task. The aim of the present study is to investigate the sensory and cognitive factors responsible for this improvement. The visual span is hypothesized to be a sensory bottleneck limiting reading speed. Three sensory factors-letter acuity, crowding, and mislocations (errors in the spatial order of letters)-may limit the size of the visual span. Reading speed is also influenced by cognitive factors including the utilization of information from sentence context. We conducted a perceptual training experiment to investigate the roles of these factors. Training consisted of four daily sessions of trigram letter-recognition trials at 10° in the lower visual field. Subjects' visual-span profiles and reading speeds were measured in pre- and posttests. Effects of the three sensory factors were isolated through a decomposition analysis of the visual span profiles. The impact of sentence context was indexed by context gain, the ratio of reading speeds for ordered and unordered text. Following training, visual spans increased in size by 5.4 bits of information transmitted, and reading speeds increased by 45%. Training induced a substantial reduction in the magnitude of crowding (4.8 bits) and a smaller reduction for mislocations (0.7 bits), but no change in letter acuity or context gain. These results indicate that the basis of the training-related improvement in reading speed is a large reduction in the interfering effect of crowding and a small reduction of mislocation errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • context gain
  • crowding
  • peripheral vision
  • reading
  • visual span


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