The processes of facilitation and inhibition in a cue-target paradigm: insight from movement trajectory deviations.
Most previous studies of inhibition of return (IOR) have examined reaction time (RT) and accuracy. These effects have been observed via saccades to targets or with key-press responses. In this study the authors examined, for the first time, IOR in components of a selective reaching task in which participants directly reached for and depressed target keys. When the interval between cue and target was 600 ms, robust IOR effects were observed in RT to begin the reach, but no effects were observed in the movement components (movement time to complete the reach and the path of the reach). However, when the cue-target interval was short (200 ms), hand paths deviated toward the cue. The results suggest that although RT measures of IOR appear to reveal perceptual rather than action-based processes, action-based representations may be briefly activated by irrelevant cues, which can be observed via analysis of three-dimensional reach path.