The role of eye movements in the missing-letter effect revisited with the rapid serial visual presentation procedure.
According to the parafoveal-processing hypothesis, letters are more often missed in function words than in content words because the former are more likely to be identified in the parafovea, where letter processing is not available. Contrary to previous demonstrations, more omissions occurred in function words than in content words when parafoveal processing was not available because words were displayed in column format, text was read through a 5-letter window, or words were presented 1 at a time on a computer screen. In all experiments, impeding parafoveal processing decreased omission rates for function but not for content words. In the last experiment, direct monitoring of eye movements revealed that, for both fixated and skipped words, letters in function words are missed more often than content words. These results are best interpreted within a model including the structural precedence hypothesis and stressing the importance of visual factors.