The word-length effect in acquired alexia, and real and virtual hemianopia

Sheldon, Claire A; Abegg, Mathias; Sekunova, Alla; Barton, Jason J S (2012). The word-length effect in acquired alexia, and real and virtual hemianopia. Neuropsychologia, 50(5), pp. 841-851. Elsevier 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.01.020

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

A word-length effect is often described in pure alexia, with reading time proportional to the number of letters in a word. Given the frequent association of right hemianopia with pure alexia, it is uncertain whether and how much of the word-length effect may be attributable to the hemifield loss. To isolate the contribution of the visual field defect, we simulated hemianopia in healthy subjects with a gaze-contingent paradigm during an eye-tracking experiment. We found a minimal word-length effect of 14 ms/letter for full-field viewing, which increased to 38 ms/letter in right hemianopia and to 31 ms/letter in left hemianopia. We found a correlation between mean reading time and the slope of the word-length effect in hemianopic conditions. The 95% upper prediction limits for the word-length effect were 51 ms/letter in subjects with full visual fields and 161 ms/letter with simulated right hemianopia. These limits, which can be considered diagnostic criteria for an alexic word-length effect, were consistent with the reading performance of six patients with diagnoses based independently on perimetric and imaging data: two patients with probable hemianopic dyslexia, and four with alexia and lesions of the left fusiform gyrus, two with and two without hemianopia. Two of these patients also showed reduction of the word-length effect over months, one with and one without a reading rehabilitation program. Our findings clarify the magnitude of the word-length effect that originates from hemianopia alone, and show that the criteria for a word-length effect indicative of alexia differ according to the degree of associated hemifield loss.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Ophthalmology

UniBE Contributor:

Abegg, Mathias








Mathias Abegg

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:34

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:10

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 220282)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback