Inhibition of return following an auditory cue. The role of central reorienting events.
Spence C., Driver J.
It is currently controversial whether auditory events produce inhibition of return (IOR). Although some authors argue that this can arise, others propose that peripheral auditory cues do not produce the characteristic IOR pattern of delayed detection latencies for ipsilaterally presented auditory or visual targets, unless a saccade is made to the cued location. We suggest that these previous discrepancies may depend on whether attention is reoriented centrally following the peripheral sound. We presented spatially uninformative peripheral auditory cues prior to visual targets requiring speeded detection responses. IOR was found in the absence of eye movements, provided an auditory reorienting event was presented at central fixation between onset of the peripheral cue and the subsequent target, but not when the central reorienting event was visual. A subsequent experiment demonstrated that auditory IOR between successive targets is similarly significantly reduced in the absence of an appropriate central reorienting event. These results imply that auditory stimuli can induce IOR directly. Previous failures to demonstrate IOR following auditory cues may have been due to an opposing influence of long-lasting attentional facilitation at the cued location, rather than to the putative inability of auditory stimuli to engage oculomotor processes generating IOR.