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Matthew Johnson, Julie Higgins, Kenneth Norman, Per Sederberg, Marcia Johnson; An inhibition of return (IOR) effect resulting from directing attention within working memory. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1238. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.11.1238.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It is well-established that a spatial attention cue can either facilitate or inhibit processing of a target stimulus presented at the cued location, depending on the stimulus onset asynchrony between the cue and target stimuli. Recently, a number of studies have begun to examine the behavioral and neural similarities and differences between perceptual attention and attention directed among items active in working memory (reflective attention). Here we explore the impact of reflective attention on perceiving a subsequently re-presented stimulus. In our first experiment, participants saw two words, followed by a cue to think back to (refresh, direct reflective attention towards) one of the words, and then a target consisting of either the refreshed word, the unrefreshed word, or a novel word. Participants were significantly slower to respond to a previously refreshed target than an unrefreshed target, an effect similar to the inhibition of return (IOR) observed in visual attention studies. However, participants remembered refreshed words better than unrefreshed words on a later surprise memory test. In a control experiment with identical stimuli, participants simply saw words re-presented instead of refreshing them, and no IOR-like effect was observed, although participants still remembered repeated words better than non-repeated words. A third study using picture stimuli instead of words demonstrated an IOR-like reflective attention effect as well, and a fourth experiment also using pictures showed that the IOR-like effect generalizes to novel exemplars from the same category as the refreshed item. These results suggest that reflective attention can result in IOR-like effects analogous to those observed for perceptual attention.
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