Inhibition of saccadic eye movements to locations in spatial working memory

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Inhibition of return (IOR) refers to a bias against overt and covert attentional orienting toward previously attended locations. According to the reorienting hypothesis, IOR is generated when attention is withdrawn from the attended location and is prevented from "returning" to it. The present study investigated whether maintenance of attention at the cued location could affect the inhibition of oculomotor orienting to it. To preclude dis-engagement of attention, we asked participants to maintain the cued location in working memory. Maintenance of visuospatial information in memory has been shown to be accomplished through a sustained shift of spatial attention to a memorized location. Our results show that oculomotor IOR occurs at a particular location even when that location is kept in working memory (Experiment 1). Furthermore, we demonstrate that the mere act of maintenance of a location in working memory produces oculomotor inhibition similar to IOR (Experiments 2 and 3). We conclude that the oculomotor system is used for coding and maintaining locations in spatial working memory. In addition, we demonstrate that endogenous attention associated with maintenance of a location in working memory can be dissociated from the attention needed for execution of a saccadic eye movement. © 2009 The Psychonomic Society, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-631
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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