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A comparision of saccadic eye movements by keyboard musicians when reading music versus text

1 May 1989


Many studies have been done on saccadic eye movements while reading text, but none have been done to see how reading music differs from reading text. The saccade is one of the major components of eye movements that has been observed in previous studies, and the EYE TRAC has been used to obtain a quantitative measurement of the number of saccades while reading. The intent of this study was to determine the difference in the number of saccadic eye movements between reading music and reading text, thereby indirectly measuring the difference in visual demand between these two tasks. We used the Eye Trac to measure the number of saccades made by keyboard musicians first while reading the standard Eye Trac text, and secondly by reading musical notes which have been reproduced to simulate the standard text as closely as possible. Both graphical and statistical analyses were performed on the data obtained during testing, and both dramatically show the difference in visual demand. The mean number of saccades per second was significantly higher for reading music (5.032) as compared to reading text (3.529), and the overall time required to complete each task also was very different (16.4 seconds for text, 120 seconds for music). Statistical analysis predicted that the probability that the data occurred by chance was .0001.


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