Novel research assesses reading in older people

Posted by pt91 at Sep 28, 2011 01:58 PM |
Prestigious award from British Academy will allow new insights into difficulties in reading for older people
Novel research assesses reading in older people

An eye-tracking test in progress.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 28 September 2011

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A University of Leicester psychologist has won a prestigious national career fellowship to pursue novel research into reading.

Dr Kevin Paterson, of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology at the University of Leicester, was among a select few to win a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. A total of 470 applications were submitted for assessment, and the Academy made just 46 offers of award, giving a success rate of under 10%.

Dr Paterson will investigate Older Adults' Use of Basic Visual Cues During Reading.

He said: “The ability to read is of fundamental importance for people to function effectively and to meet everyday demands of living, working and citizenship.

“However, research suggests older readers (aged 65+ years) have significant difficulty in reading, even when their visual abilities appear normal. Little is known about the cause of this difficulty or how it should be combated.

“To address this issue, the proposed project will build on pilot research showing that young and older readers differ in their use of basic visual cues, and that older readers rely more heavily on coarse-scale cues about the length, shape and location of words, perhaps due to loss of sensitivity to fine-scale information associated with normal aging.

“The project involves a series of experiments that assess reading performance for text that has been digitally manipulated to enhance the salience of different visual cues at various locations around the readers’ point of gaze. The results promise to throw new light on the reading process and to reveal previously uncharted influences of normal aging on reading ability.”

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Dr Kevin Paterson of the School of Psychology.
Dr Paterson said the research will be of great interest to the growing community of researchers working on both eye movements while reading and gerontology.

He added: “The findings from this research will also be of considerable interest to charitable bodies concerned with the amelioration of the effects of visual impairments on the quality of life of older people. Consequently, a report on the findings from this research aimed at a lay readership will also be produced for dissemination to these organisations and to other agencies and policymakers with similar concerns.”


For more information, please contact

Dr. Kevin Paterson

School of Psychology

College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology Henry Wellcome Building University of Leicester


T: 0116 229 7179




The British Academy was established by Royal Charter in 1902, under the full title of 'The British Academy for the Promotion of Historical, Philosophical and Philological Studies'. It is an independent and self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for distinction and achievement in one or more branches of the academic disciplines that make up the humanities and social sciences, and is now organised in eighteen Sections by academic discipline. There are Fellows, overseas Corresponding Fellows, and Honorary Fellows. Up to thirty-eight new Fellows may be elected in any one year.

The British Academy is the national academy for the humanities and the social sciences, the counterpart to the Royal Society which exists to serve the natural sciences. The Academy aims to represent the interests of scholarship nationally and internationally; to give recognition to excellence; to promote and support advanced research; to further international collaboration and exchange; to promote public understanding of research and scholarship; to publish the results of research.

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