Insights from Eye Blinks into the Cognitive Processes Involved in Visual Word Recognition

Ronen Hershman, David L. Share, Elisabeth M. Weiss, Avishai Henik, Adi Shechter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Behavioral differences in speed and accuracy between reading familiar and unfamiliar words are well-established in the empirical literature. However, these standard measures of skill proficiency are limited in their ability to capture the moment-to-moment processing involved in visual word recognition. In the present study, the effect of word familiarity was initially investigated using an eye blink rate among adults and children. The probability of eye blinking was higher for familiar (real) words than for unfamiliar (pseudo)words. This counterintuitive pattern of results suggests that the processing of unfamiliar (pseudo)words is more demanding and perhaps less rewarding than the processing of familiar (real) words, as previously observed in both behavioral and pupillometry data. Our findings suggest that the measurement of eye blinks might shed new light on the cognitive processes involved in visual word recognition and other domains of human cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalJournal of Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s).


  • eye blinks
  • mental effort
  • reading
  • word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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