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Psychon Bull Rev. 2009 Apr;16(2):238-51. doi: 10.3758/PBR.16.2.238.

Reconceptualizing inhibition of return as habituation of the orienting response.

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  • 1Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Inhibition of return (IOR) is an effect on spatial attention whereby reaction times to a target presented at a location where a stimulus had recently been presented are increased, as opposed to when a target is presented at a new location. Despite early reports that habituation is not responsible for the IOR effect, the human cognitive literature provides indirect evidence in favor of the possibility. In addition, recent neurophysiological studies provide direct support for the idea that habituation is at least a contributing source for the IOR effect. The present article describes how habituation may account for the IOR effect and explores some of the predictions that this hypothesis suggests.

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