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Inhibition of return generated by voluntary saccades is independent of attentional momentum

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Summoning attention to a peripheral location, either by a peripheral cue with the eyes fixed or when a voluntary saccade is made to it and gaze is then returned to the centre, delays detection of subsequent targets at that location compared to a location in the opposite visual field. It has been proposed that oculomotor activation generates this inhibition of return (IOR). This account presupposes that the asymmetry in detection results from inhibition at the cued location rather than facilitation at the uncued location. This has been confirmed for exogenously generated IOR. However, it has not, heretofore, been confirmed for "IOR" generated by voluntary saccades. The current study investigated whether the asymmetry in target detection, elicited either by a peripheral flash or by an eye movement generated in response to a central arrowhead, reflects facilitation at the opposite location due to the path of attentional momentum. Reaction times at the cued location were slower than reaction times at the opposite or perpendicular locations, which did not differ. Opposite facilitation due to attentional momentum requires that opposite be faster than perpendicular, which was not obtained. The results were the same whether IOR was generated by an exogenous cue or by a saccade executed endogenously to a central arrow.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Otago Dunedin New Zealand 2: University of Wales at Bangor, Bangor Wales UK

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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