Special Symposia

 Alan Kennedy
 George W. McConkie

Alan Kennedy
University of Dundee, Scotland, U.K.

Alan Kennedy holds a BA and PhD in Psychology from the University of Birmingham.  He was a lecturer in Melbourne University from 1963 to 1965 when he moved to Dundee to take up  a lectureship in Queen's College, then part of the University of St. Andrews.  When the College became an independent University in 1968 he remained in Dundee as one of the five founding members of the Psychology Department.  He was a Senior Lecturer then Professor of Psychology, a post he held from 1972 to 2008.  He is currently an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research fellow in the School of Psychology.  He has held visiting posts at Monash University, Melbourne University, The University of Provence, Aix-en-Provence, Blaise Pascal University, Clermont Ferrand and Boulogne Billancourt, Paris.  His research has been supported over a period of more than forty years by grants from the UK Economic and Social Research Council, The Medical Research Council, The British Academy, The Royal Society, CNRS, The European Commission and The Leverhulme Trust. He was elected a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1972, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1991 and was elected an Honorary Member of the Experimental Psychology Society in 2009.

He established an eye movement laboratory in Dundee in 1973 and carried out some pioneering studies of sentence processing, helping establish eye movement recording as a primary research tool in psycholinguistics. In 1981 at a Sloan Conference he demonstrated the “blank screen” paradigm – systematic eye movements occurring in the absence of visual stimuli.  This work led to an examination of the degree to which readers tag text items spatially.  His discovery of parafoveal-on-foveal effects in reading led to an on-going dispute as to whether or not cross-talk of this kind provides evidence for parallel lexical processing.  Recent work confirming that fact that the reader’s sequence of eye movements rarely honours the correct serial order of words in text has re-opened the question of spatial indexing.

Kennedy has had several long-standing research collaborations, in particular with Alan Wilkes, Wayne Murray and Joël Pynte.  

Selected Publications
  • Kennedy, A. and Wilkes, A.L. (1969).  Analysis of storage and retrieval processes in memorising simple sentences.  Journal of Experimental Psychology, 80, 396-398.
  • Kennedy, A. and Wilkes, A.L. (1971). Functional Structure in sentences: a performance analysis.  Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 23, 214-224.
  • Kennedy, A. and Murray, W.S. (1984).  Inspection-times for words in syntactically ambiguous sentences under three presentation conditions.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance, 10, 833-849.
  • Kennedy, A., Brysbaert, M. and Murray, W.S. (1998) The effects of intermittent illumination on a visual inspection task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 51A, 135-151.
  • Kennedy, A. & Pynte, J. (2005). Parafoveal-on-Foveal effects in normal reading. Vision Research. 45, 153–168.
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George, W. McConkie
Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

George, W. McConkie earned his doctoral degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Stanford in 1966. He was appointed as Professor in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1978, and he became in 1989 Professor at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, UIUC. He is today Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Senior Scholar in the College of Education at UIUC. George McConkie received several honors. He obtained a Fellowship as a Fulbright Scholar to conduct research in Taiwan in 1998 and he was awarded for his Outstanding Scientific Contribution to the Study of Reading by the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading in 1995. He also obtained a Chiang Ching-kuo Senior Fellowship from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation in 1999.

George McConkie is one of the few pioneer researchers of the 70's, who re-introduced the study of eye movements in reading. His hope was to provide, based on eye-movement recordings, an online index of language and cognitive processes. To this aim, he designed in collaboration with Keith Rayner, one of his former students, a new technique for making changes to the visual information displayed on a computer screen contingent upon the position of the eyes. The well-known moving-window paradigm is one example of this technique, which led him and K. Rayner to provide the first estimations of how many letters are extracted during an eye fixation in continuous reading. He proposed in 1979, his first, perceptual-span theory of eye movement control, that is the assumption that processing of information within the perceptual-span drives the eyes along the lines of text. However, over the years, he became more and more convinced that his initial proposal was wrong, that the oculomotor system has a certain degree of autonomy and is not under the direct control of cognitive processes. He and S.-N. Yang describe this new view in their Competition-Interaction model of eye movement control in reading.

George McConkie has discovered several robust eye-movement phenomena, amongst which the launch site effect with Paul Kerr, one of his former PhD student; this effect has since been at the core of many studies and models of eye-movement control in reading. He was the first with D. Zola to introduce local, word-based analyses of eye movements in children learning to read. With one of his former students, John Grimes, he reported for the first time the phenomenon of change blindness (in a conference presentation in 1992, later published in a book chapter in 1996). He has greatly advanced the understanding of how visual information is integrated across saccades, with David Zola and Keith Rayner in the early years, and later with Christopher Currie, a former PhD student, and Dave Irwin. His theoretical view of transsaccadic integration is well expressed in his saccade-target theory of perceptual stability. G. McConkie also made significant contributions to the field of scene perception as exemplified by his work with L. Loschky, one of his former PhD students. He has for many years worked in collaboration with Gary Wolverton and he has supervised a great number of students and post-doctoral students coming from all over the world, who cannot be all mentioned in this short summary.

Selected Publications
  • Loschky, L.C., McConkie, G.W., Yang, J. & Miller, M.E. (2005). The limits of visual resolution in natural scene viewing. Visual Cognition, 12(6), 1057-1092.
  • McConkie, G. W., & Currie, C. B. (1996). Visual stability across saccades while viewing complex pictures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 22(3), 563-581.
  • McConkie, G. W., Kerr, P. W., Reddix, M. D., & Zola, D. (1988). Eye movement control during reading: I. The location of initial eye fixations on words. Vision Research, 28(10), 1107-1118.
  • McConkie, G. W., & Rayner, K. (1975). The span of the effective stimulus during a fixation in reading. Perception and Psychophysics, 17, 578-586.
  • McConkie G. W. & Zola D. (1979). Is visual information integrated across successive fixations in reading? Perception & Psychophysics, 25(3):221-4.
  • McConkie, G. W., Zola, D., Grimes, J., Kerr, P. W., Bryant, N. R., & Wolff, P. M. (1991). Children's eye movement during reading. In J. F. Stein (Ed.), Vision and visual dyslexia (pp. 251-262). London: Macmillan Press.
  • Yang, S. N., & McConkie, G. W. (2001). Eye movements during reading: A theory of saccade initiation times. Vision Research, 41, 3567-3585.
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