I just found a fantastic new blog written by an expert in the field of eye science, Kevin Larson. Anyone who is interested in how the brain and eye interact with electronic text should check it out here:
Here is Dr. Larson’s bio, just reading this and his corresponding blog makes me wish I had the chance to buy him a coffee and pick his brain for an hour (or two, or three …):
I am a psychologist who has been working for Microsoft in different capacities since 1996. In 2000 I completed my PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of Texas at Austin studying word recognition and reading acquisition. I joined the ClearType team in 2002 to help get a better scientific understanding of the benefits of ClearType and other reading technologies with the goal of achieving a great on-screen reading experience.
During my first year with the team I gave a series of talks on relevant psychological topics, some of which instigated strong disagreement. At the crux of the disagreement was that the team believed that we recognized words by looking at the outline that goes around a whole word, while I believed that we recognize individual letters. In my young career as a reading psychologist I had never encountered a model of reading that used word shape as perceptual units, and knew of no psychologists who were working on such a model. But it turns out that the model had a very long history that I was unfamiliar with.