The influence of language proficiency on visual search in letter chartsстатья

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[1] Izmalkova A., Blinnikova I. The influence of language proficiency on visual search in letter charts // Perception. — 2017. — Vol. 46. In the current study visual search for lexical items was modeled. 34 subjects (19 native speakers of Russian and 15 B2 learners of Russian as a second language) were presented with letter matrices (15x15, filled with Cyrillic letters in random order), where they had to find 10 average-frequency Russian words in 40 seconds. We presented 6 matrices to each subject. Subjects’ eye movements were recorded with SR 1000 eye-tracker. We used the procedure for distinguishing eye movement patterns of visual search based on intersaccadic angles and saccade directions as described in our previous paper (Blinnikova, Izmalkova, 2017, in print). The data indicates that subjects demonstrate different eye-movement patterns according to their language expertise: native speakers tended to have larger intersaccadic angles (mean=74.1, σ=11.3) as compared to B2 Russian language learners (mean=31.8, σ=14.7); the results were significant at F(2;190)=479, p<0.05. Language learners, therefore, showed sequential eye movement pattern with prevailing either horizontal, or vertical alignment of fixations (contingency coefficient=5.71, p<0.05), which can be attributed to the difficulty of lexical decision task, which was proved by search results (mean=2.1 out of 10, σ=1.5) as compared to native speakers (mean=2.9, σ=1.6), who demonstrated non-sequential search pattern. The data is in accordance with previous research on the efficiency of lexical decision task according to language proficiency (e.g. Bultena, Dijkstra, van Hell, 2014). The study was sponsored by the RFBR research grant № 16-36-00044.

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