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JeeWon Ahn, Glyn Humphreys, Alejandro Lleras; Inter-trial inhibition of spatial attention. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):226. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.11.226.
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What are the behavioral consequences of moving attention to a location only to find a no-go stimulus there (i.e., a stimulus that does not afford a response in the task)? To test this question, we used displays containing three go stimuli and a no-go stimulus. Participants were asked to report the identity of the target pointed at by a central cue or withhold responses when the cue pointed to the no-go stimulus. In the sequences (no-go trial followed by go trial), we examined whether moving attention to a location recently associated with no-go status would be impaired. On cue-repeated trials, the cue pointed at the same location twice in a row; on cue-changed trials, the cue pointed at two different locations across trials. RTs on cue-repeated trials were slowed compared to cue-changed trials (Experiment 1A). However, as the frequency of cue repetition increased above chance, the RT difference disappeared (Experiment 1B), indicating that participants are sensitive to the inter-trial information provided by the cue and can overcome this inter-trial bias. To rule out the contribution of Inhibition of Return to the inter-trial inhibition effect observed in Experiment 1A, we ran Experiment 2 in which only go-trials were included: unlike Experiment 1A, RTs were faster in the cue-repeated condition. Thus merely moving attention to a location on trial N-1 does not automatically make it harder to direct attention to that location on trial N. Also we tested whether our effect was inherent to the repetition of cue (rather than attending to a no-go stimulus), by replacing the no-go stimulus with an empty location. No inter-trial effect was found. Taken together, we suggest that spatial deployments of attention are marked with the success or failure of the information encountered at the attended location, thereby biasing future deployment of attention to that location.
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