Bouma: a hypothesized visual-syntactic atom of immersive reading; almost always the blurry notan of a string of letters; usually the blurry outline of a single word in the parafovea. The term is a simplification of “Bouma-shape” as used by Insup Taylor and/or Paul Saenger, derived from Herman Bouma, a [retired] Dutch scientist.
Most cognitive psychologists reject this hypothesized importance of the bouma in reading, immersive or otherwise. The dominant reading model in cognitive psychology is the parallel letterwise recognition model. Research experiments which would have different predicted outcomes for the two different theories have supported parallel letterwise recognition over the bouma theory.