Investigating Multi-Constituent Units (MCUs) in Reading


Welcome to our website to inform you about our project investigating the role of MCUs in Reading. The project is funded by Economic & Social Research Council and is led by Professor Simon P. Liversedge from the School of Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. Our research investigates whether readers identify common multi-word phrases (we term these Multi-Constituent Units) in the same way that they process single words during natural reading?  Investigating this question will allow us to better understand how readers control their saccadic eye movements as they read.  In our project we are particularly focused on how Chinese people process MCUs because written Chinese is a language that is character based, and most importantly, unspaced.  In written Chinese there are no spaces between words.  That is to say, there are no visual cues in the text to inform the reader where each word begins and ends.  Chinese readers must therefore segment the string of characters in a sentence into words.  At present, we do not fully understand how Chinese readers do this, how they decide where words, or MCUs, begin and end.  In our project, we will undertake a series of experiments in which we track Chinese readers' eyes as they read text without inter-word spaces.  If this sounds interesting to you, why not click through a few of our pages in order to discover more about words, MCUs and reading of alphabetic languages like English as well as non-alphabetic languages  like Chinese.