Fruitful visual search: Inhibition of return in a virtual foraging task

Laura E. Thomas, Michael S. Ambinder, Brendon Hsieh, Brian Levinthal, James A. Crowell, David E. Irwin, Arthur F. Kramer, Alejandro Lleras, Daniel J. Simons, Frances Wang Ranxiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inhibition of return (IOR) has long been viewed as a foraging facilitator in visual search. We investigated the contribution of IOR in a task that approximates natural foraging more closely than typical visual search tasks. Participants in a fully immersive virtual reality environment manually searched an array of leaves for a hidden piece of fruit, using a wand to select and examine each leaf location. Search was slower than in typical IOR paradigms, taking seconds instead of a few hundred milliseconds. Participants also made a speeded response when they detected a flashing leaf that either was or was not in a previously searched location. Responses were slower when the flashing leaf was in a previously searched location than when it was in an unvisited location. These results generalize IOR to an approximation of a naturalistic visual search setting and support the hypothesis that IOR can facilitate foraging. The experiment also constitutes the first use of a fully immersive virtual reality display in the study of IOR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-895
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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