Offre de stage

Eye-Finger Reading: A multisensory-integration approach to probe the interplay between language and visuo-motor processes during reading

Période :   au

The goal of the present M2 project is to take advantage of the strong coupling between the eye and the hand/finger to better understand eye-movement control during reading and provide new insight on multisensory integration.


Reading is a complex perceptual and cognitive task enabled by the execution of saccadic eye movements, or rapid shifts of the line of sight, along lines of text. It has been studied for over a century, but the interplay between language-related processes and the control of saccades remains unclear. A widely shared assumption is that eye movements during reading are primarily driven by the needs of ongoing word-identification processes. However, language-related processes are very-much time consuming and only mildly affect readers’ eye-movement behavior. This evidence together with the central role of the superior colliculus (SC) in saccade programming led us to propose a simpler alternative to cognitive models of eye-movement control: that readers move their eyes mindlessly, according to rudimentary visuo-motor principles in the SC, and that slower language-related processes intervene only punctually to modulate, or else interrupt the progression of the eyes along printed lines.

In our study, we will use a novel, multisensory-integration approach to probe the dynamics of the visuo-motor and cognitive processes driving eye movements during reading. This approach relies on the strong coupling between the eye and the hand/finger as evidenced in a number of studies including ours, and the fact that the SC, which is multisensory in nature, integrates visual as well as auditory and somatosensory inputs. Our hypothesis is that the voluntary movement of the finger under the line of text during reading should alter the metrics of forward saccades and even alter the dynamics of the visuo-motor processes during reading, making it more compatible with the dynamics of language-related processes. The goal of the present project is to first test this assumption by conducting an experiment where we will compare the eye movements of adults reading sentences in conditions with or without finger reading. We will also measure successive finger positions over sentences during finger reading and estimate how finger movements impact both the amplitude and the direction of saccades, as well as fixation durations. Granger causality will be used to assess the coupling between the finger and the eyes during reading.

It will then be central to determine whether potential effects of finger pointing on eye movements result from the visualization of the finger, and hence visual information only, or also from somatosensory information which is also strongly represented in the SC. This will be investigated in further experiments during the PhD where we will create a mismatch between the tactile information informing about the speed of the finger motion on the surface of the text and the actual speed of the finger. The project as a whole should allow us to decipher the complex interplay between visuomotor mechanisms and higher-level cognitive processes in the control of eye movements during reading, while providing new insights on multisensory integration in daily cognitive tasks.

Profil recherché

The candidate will have good background in behavioral neurosciences. She/He will be fluent in French (for data acquisition) and will have a good level in English (for the literature review).

Établissement d'accueil

The project will be conducted in our laboratories (LPC and LNC) at the FR3C in St Charles campus. It will benefit from the equipment and expertise we developed in eye-tracking and tactile recording and stimulation.

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