During search of the environment, the inhibition of the return (IOR) of attention to already-examined information ensures that the target will ultimately be detected. Until now, inhibition was assumed to support search of information during one processing episode. However, in some situations search may have to be completed long after it was begun. We therefore propose that inhibition can be associated with an episode encoded into memory such that later retrieval reinstates inhibitory processing and encourages examination of new information. In two experiments in which attention was drawn to face stimuli with an exogenous cue, we demonstrated for the first time the existence of long-term IOR. Interestingly, this was the case only for faces in the left visual field, perhaps because more efficient processing of faces in the right hemisphere than the left hemisphere results in richer, more retrievable memory representations.
- inhibition of return
- retrievable memory