Semantic anomalies at the borderline of consciousness: An eye-tracking investigation

Jason Bohan, Anthony Sanford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


We report an eye-tracking study in which participants read passages containing difficult-to-detect semantic anomalies. Would there be any evidence of the registration of the anomaly within the comprehension system (reflected in eye tracking) when anomalies were not noticed? Using early and late processing measures, there was no evidence for registration independent of conscious detection. Comparisons were made between detected and undetected anomalies and between these and nonanomalous controls. There was evidence of disruption to the tracking measures only when a conscious report was also made. These data fit the view that shallow semantic processing underlies the failure to detect anomalies. Implications for language processing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-239
Number of pages8
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to A. J. Sanford, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi), Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ , UK. E-mail: We acknowledge support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through Grant R000–23–988 and helpful comments from Matt Traxler, Debra Long, Kiel Christiansen, and an anonymous reviewer.


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