Inhibition of object identity in inhibition of return: Implications for encoding and retrieving inhibitory processes

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Inhibition of return (IOR) effects, in which participants detect a target in a cued box more slowly than one in an uncued box, suggest that behavior is aided by inhibition of recently attended irrelevant locations. To investigate the controversial question of whether inhibition can be applied to object identity in these tasks, in the present research we presented faces upright or inverted during cue and/or target sequences. IOR was greater when both cue and target faces were upright than when cue and/or target faces were inverted. Because the only difference between the conditions was the ease of facial recognition, this result indicates that inhibition was applied to object identity. Interestingly, inhibition of object identity affected IOR both when encoding a cue face and retrieving information about a target face. Accordingly, we propose that episodic retrieval of inhibition associated with object identity may mediate behavior in cuing tasks. This research was supported by the BBSRC (Grant 5/S1355) and the ESRC (Grant R000 2203268).