Inhibition of return (IOR) refers to a reflexive mechanism mediated by phylogenetically primitive extrageniculate visuomotor pathways, which apparently serves to favor novel spatial locations by inhibiting those recently sampled. We demonstrate an asymmetry between temporal and nasal hemifields in the strategic modulation of IOR by endogenously controlled attention. Exogenous and endogenous precues were manipulated independently on each trial such that precues to initiate endogenous spatial orienting were presented after IOR had been activated by exogenous visual signals. Both types of precues manifested their characteristic effects on reaction time (RT) to detect subsequent targets: facilitation by endogenous precues, and IOR by exogenous precues. Under monocular viewing, an asymmetric interaction between these two mechanisms was observed. While endogenous allocation of attention to the nasal hemifield reduced IOR, no endogenous modulation of IOR was present in the temporal hemifield where the effects of the two types of precues were independent. These observations suggest a framework for understanding the neurobiology of automaticity and control—from an evolutionary perspective.

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