Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
In skilled reading, fixations are brief periods of time in which the eyes settle on words. E-Z Reader, a computational model of dynamic reading, posits that fixation durations are under real-time control of lexical processing. Lexical processing, in turn, requires efficient visual encoding. Here we tested the hypothesis that individual differences in fixation durations are related to individual differences in the efficiency of early visual encoding. To test this hypothesis, we recorded participants' eye movements during reading. We then examined individual differences in fixation duration distributions as a function of individual differences in the morphology of primary visual cortex measured from MRI scans. The results showed that greater gray matter surface area and volume in visual cortex predicted shorter and less variable fixation durations in reading. These results suggest that individual differences in eye movements during skilled reading are related to initial visual encoding, consistent with models such as E-Z Reader that emphasize lexical control over fixation time.