Chinese Researcher Develops

A Chinese Reading Model


In the Chinese writing system, there are no inter-word spaces to mark word boundaries. To understand how Chinese readers conquer this challenge, an integrated model of word processing and eye-movement control during Chinese reading was developed by Professor LI Xingshan from Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Professor Alexander Pollatsek from University of Massachusetts.

The model contains a word-processing module and an eye-movement control module. The word-processing module perceives new information within the perceptual span around a fixation. The model uses the interactive activation framework (McClelland & Rumelhart, 1981) to simulate word processing, but some new assumptions were made to address the word segmentation problem in Chinese reading. All the words supported by characters in the perceptual span are activated and they compete for a winner. When one word wins the competition, it is identified and it is simultaneously segmented from text. The eye-movement control module makes the decision regarding when and where to move the eyes using the activation information of word units and character units provided by the word-processing module. The model estimates how many characters can be processed during a fixation, and then makes a saccade to somewhere beyond this point. The model successfully simulated important findings on the relation between word processing and eye-movement control: how Chinese readers choose saccade targets, how Chinese readers segment words with ambiguous boundaries, and how Chinese readers process information with parafoveal vision during Chinese sentence reading. The current model thus provides insights on how Chinese readers address some important challenges, such as word segmentation and saccade-target selection.

The paper has been published in Psychological Review (on-line first publication). This research was supported by grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, 31970992, 31571125), and by a grant jointly supported by NSFC and German Research Foundation (DFG) (NSFC 61621136008/DFG TRR-169). 



Paper information

Li, X., & Pollatsek, A. (2020, July 16). An Integrated Model of Word Processing and Eye-Movement Control During Chinese Reading. Psychological Review. Advance online publication.

Email: lixs at Tel: 86-10-6487-6719