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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2002 Aug;14(2):269-76.

A perceptual level mechanism of the inhibition of return in oculomotor planning.

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Brain and Behavior Laboratory, Medical Research Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Tao-yuan, Taiwan.


A motor response to a visual target presented at a precued spatial location is facilitated if the target is presented shortly after the cue and inhibited when the cue target onset asynchrony approaches a few hundred milliseconds. The latter effect is termed inhibition of return (IOR). It is suggested that IOR provides an important strategy for effective search in our visual environment. Despite studies demonstrating IOR in a number of behavioral tasks, its neural mechanism has remained elusive. As a fundamental step toward understanding these mechanisms, the current study examines whether IOR mainly involves a perceptual or a motor process. We conducted a series of experiments, in which the target instructed saccades to the cued or to a different location. In each experiment, we observed a similar pattern of IOR when the target followed the cue, but not when the saccade was directed to the cued location. In another two experiments, we demonstrated that the magnitude and temporal profile of IOR varied depending on whether an eye movement or a manual response was involved. Overall, the present study suggests that IOR results predominantly from a perceptual level mechanism, with its magnitude and time course modulated by the activation of specific motor effectors. We discuss the implications of these results for attention gating of perceptual inputs and for mechanisms of visuomotor control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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