Modeling Task Effects in Human Reading with Neural Attention

07/31/2018 ∙ by Michael Hahn, et al. ∙ 0

Humans read by making a sequence of fixations and saccades. They often skip words, without apparent detriment to understanding. We offer a novel explanation for skipping: readers optimize a tradeoff between performing a language-related task and fixating as few words as possible. We propose a neural architecture that combines an attention module (deciding whether to skip words) and a task module (memorizing the input). We show that our model predicts human skipping behavior, while also modeling reading times well, even though it skips 40 different reading tasks should result in different skipping behaviors. We confirm this prediction in an eye-tracking experiment in which participants answers questions about a text. We are able to capture these experimental results using the our model, replacing the memorization module with a task module that performs neural question answering.

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