Attentional momentum does not underlie the inhibition of return effect

  • Snyder J
  • Schmidt W
  • Kingstone A
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J. Pratt, T. M. Spalek, and F. Bradshaw (1999) recently proposed that attentional momentum is the mechanism underlying the inhibition of return (IOR) effect. They suggested that momentum associated with an attentional movement away from a peripherally cued location and toward an uncued opposite location is essential and fundamental to the finding of an IOR effect. Although it is clear from the present study and from a reanalysis of data from Pratt et al. that response time can be facilitated at an uncued opposite location, this putative effect of attentional momentum is neither robust nor reliable. First, it occurs for only a minority of participants. Second, it occurs in only a subset of the cued display positions. And finally, it is uncorrelated with the occurrence of IOR. Together the data indicate that the attentional momentum hypothesis is an overgeneralization and that it does not underlie the robust and reliable IOR effect.

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  • Janice J. Snyder

  • William C. Schmidt

  • Alan Kingstone

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