Inhibition of Return: Sensitivity and Criterion as a Function of Response Time

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Abstract

Inhibition of return (IOR) refers to a mechanism that results in a performance disadvantage typically observed when targets are presented at a location once occupied by a cue. Although the time course of the phenomenon—from the cue to the target—has been well studied, the time course of the effect—from target to response—is unknown. In 2 experiments, the effect of IOR upon sensitivity and response criterion under different levels of speed stress was examined. In go/no-go and choice reaction time tasks, IOR had at least 2 distinct effects on information processing. Early in target processing, before sufficient target information has accrued, there is a bias against responding to cued targets. Later, as target information is allowed to accrue, IOR reduces sensitivity to the target's nonspatial feature. Three accounts relating to the early bias effect of IOR and the late effect of IOR on sensitivity are offered.

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