Contingent capture and inhibition of return: A comparison of mechanisms

William Prinzmetal, Jordan A. Taylor, Loretta Barry Myers, Jacqueline Nguyen-Espino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We investigated the cause(s) of two effects associated with involuntary attention in the spatial cueing task: contingent capture and inhibition of return (IOR). Previously, we found that there were two mechanisms of involuntary attention in this task: (1) a (serial) search mechanism that predicts a larger cueing effect in reaction time with more display locations and (2) a decision (threshold) mechanism that predicts a smaller cueing effect with more display locations (Prinzmetal et al. 2010). In the present study, contingent capture and IOR had completely different patterns of results when we manipulated the number of display locations and the presence of distractors. Contingent capture was best described by a search model, whereas the inhibition of return was best described by a decision model. Furthermore, we fit a linear ballistic accumulator model to the results and IOR was accounted for by a change of threshold, whereas the results from contingent capture experiments could not be fit with a change of threshold and were better fit by a search model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-60
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Attention
  • Contingent capture
  • Exogenous attention
  • Inhibition of return
  • Involuntary attention

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