Inhibition of Return. Klein. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2000.


  1. Inhibition of return (IOR) describes the “inhibitory aftereffect” where people tend to have difficult to fixate back on point A after fixating on A and then shifting gaze to B (ABA is hard, while AB is not)
  2. IOR “… encourages orienting towards novel locations and hence might facilitate foraging and other search behaviors.”
  3. “Efficient foraging for food … involves not only voluntary control over orienting but also the use of information stored in memory about one’s previous orienting behavior.”
    1. Useful to remember where food was found, and where it wasn’t (or equivalently, where it was and then completely consumed so none remained)
  4. “By interposing eye movements between the cue and the target IOR was shown to be coded in environmental rather than retinal coordinates.”
  5. “Converging evidence suggests that IOR delays both motor responses and the return of attention.”
  6. Effect is larger when fixation stimulus is removed
  7. Doesn’t seem to be the case that attention itself is impacted by IOR (hasn’t been reproduced when the stimulus is non-spatial in nature)… although then later work shows that it can occur with non-spatial stimulus as well
  8. In terms of a “…motor bias view: ‘…IOR is a reluctance to respond to an event at the inhibited location (in other words, IOR is more closely associated with responding than with attention)'”
  9. It starts after about 250ms and lasts for several seconds
  10. There is a “… gradient in the magnitude of IOR, with inhibition declining with increasing angular distance from the originaly cued locaiton.”
  11. “IOR has been observed in the auditory and tactile modalities and also crosmodally…”
  12. In the real world, objects move during observation.   “A tagging system that merely inhibited [fixed] environmental locations… would not optimize search in such a dynamic scene.  Tags would need to be attached to objects in the scene and move with them to be helpful in this real-world situation.  Tipper et al were the first to demonstrate that IOR could be attached to objects in a scene with moving elements…”
  13. They claim parietal cortex as the source of inhibition exhibited in IOR
  14. If the background changes entirely before fixation is to return to point A, the impact of IOR is greatly reduced, so along with the results on moving targets it seems like the impact really has to do with what particular objects were fixated on
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