Investigating the parameters of transsaccadic memory: inhibition of return impedes information acquisition near a saccade target

Martijn J. Schut*, Jasper H. Fabius, Stefan Van der Stigchel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A limited amount of visual information is retained between saccades, which is subsequently stored into a memory system, such as transsaccadic memory. Since the capacity of transsaccadic memory is limited, selection of information is crucial. Selection of relevant information is modulated by attentional processes such as the presaccadic shift of attention. This involuntary shift of attention occurs prior to execution of the saccade and leads to information acquisition at an intended saccade target. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence that another attentional effect, inhibition of return (IOR), has on the information that gets stored into transsaccadic memory. IOR is the phenomenon where participants are slower to respond to a cue at a previously attended location. To this end, we used a transsaccadic memory paradigm in which stimuli, oriented on a horizontal axis relative to saccade direction, are only visible to the participant before executing a saccade. Previous research showed that items in close proximity to a saccade target are likely to be reported more accurately. In our current study, participants were cued to fixate one of the stimulus locations and subsequently refixated the centre fixation point before executing the transsaccadic memory task. Results indicate that information at a location near a saccade landing point is less likely to be acquired into transsaccadic memory when this location was previously associated with IOR. Furthermore, we found evidence which implicates a reduction of the overall amount of elements retained in transsaccadic memory when a location near a saccade target is associated with IOR. These results suggest that the presaccadic shift of attention may be modulated by IOR and thereby reduces information acquisition by transsaccadic memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages14
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2016


  • Inhibition of return
  • presaccadic shift of attention
  • transsaccadic memory


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