LOT Winter School 2018

RM1 Eye-tracking in psycholinguistic research: why, how, and what for

Monique Lamers


VU Amsterdam


Level: RM1

Course description:

One of the main goals of psycholinguistics is to reveal the mental representations and processes in language understanding, as well as the dynamics of these processes. Out of a wide range of available techniques, this course focuses on the experimental research method of eye movement registration. In the past few decades, this technique has become one of the most effective non-invasive, time sensitive methods in psycholinguistic research.

The course starts with an overview of the most important characteristics of eye movement measurements that are frequently used to answer the questions raised in a large number of psycholinguistics studies. Besides the assumptions that underpin most eye tracking studies, we will also discuss the advantages (and disadvantages) of the use of eye tracking in relation to characteristics and solutions that other research methods offer.

The course will provide in practical knowledge by studying selected research papers in which different paradigms were used. Some of these paradigms will be demonstrated during the course and a visit to the eye track lab. In a practical session, students will obtain hands-on experience using the eye tracker and software to set up an eye tracker experiment. The final lecture will address the various ways to analyze eye tracking data. The course will conclude with a discussion of the research question and experimental set up proposed by the students preceding and during the course.

Day-to-day program


Eye-tracking in psycholinguistic research, different measures for different processes? & Your research questions


Seeing what you read: Using eye tracking to study discourse comprehension, from narrative text passages to children’s books and graphic novels


Seeing what you hear: Using eye tracking to study spoken language understanding of words and phonemes


Visit the lab and hands-on practical exercise


Where, When, Who? Discussion of different views on data analysis & Back to your research question

Reading list

Background and preparatory readings:

The following books and articles provide useful information and will be referred to in the course repeatedly:

  • Holmqvist K, Nyström M, Andersson, R, Dewhurst R, Jarodzka H., & van de Weijer, J. (2011). Eye tracking: a comprehensive guide to methods and measures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Traxler, M.J. (2012). Reading (Chapter 10, pp. 369-414). Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Highly recommended for lecture 2:

Preparatory reading:

  • See obligatory readings for lecture 1.

Course readings (obligatory):

Lecture 1:

  • Richardson, D. C., Dale, R. & Spivey, M. J. (2007). Eye movements in language and cognition. In M. Gonzalez-Marquez, I. Mittelberg, S. Coulson & M. J. Spivey (Eds.), Empirical Methods in Cognitive Linguistics (pp. 323-344). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins - https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e598/e2182e115638...

Lecture 2:

  • Lamers, M.J.A. & Spooren, W. (2012). Tracking referents in discourse. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics.Vol. 1,1. 59-79.
  • Boland, J. (2004). Linking eye movements to sentence comprehension in reading and listening. In M. Carreiras & C. Clifton Jr. (Eds.), The on-line study of sentence comprehension: eye tracking, ERPs and beyond (pp. 51-76). New York: Psychology Press.

Lecture 3:


  • McMurray, B., Tanenhaus, M. K., & Aslin, R. N. (2002). Gradient effects of within-category phonetic variation on lexical access. Cognition, 86, 33-42.

Lecture 4:

  • Literature of the first lecture

Lecture 5:

Optional Readings:

  • -Blascheck, T., Kurzhals, K., Raschke, M., Burch, M., Weiskopf, D. & Ertl, T. (2014). State-of-the-art of visualization for eye tracking data. In R. Borgo, R. Maciejewski, I. Viola (Eds.), State of the Art Report, Eurographics Conference on Visualization (EuroVis'14) - http://www.visus.uni-stuttgart.de/fileadmin/vis/pd...
  • -Duchowski, A. (2007). Eye tracking methodology: theory and practice. Chapter 12: Eye movement analysis eye tracking methodology (pp. 137–153). London: Springer.

Preparatory assignment: will be announced per email in December.

Assignments during School and Final Assignment presented during the course.