Klein, R.M., & MacInnes,W.J. (in press) Inhibition of return is a foraging facilitator in visual search. Psychological Science.

Using overt orienting, our participants searched a complex visual scene for a camouflaged target (Waldo from the Where's Waldo booksTM). After several saccades, we presented an uncamouflaged probe (black disk) while removing or maintaining the scene, and participants were required to locate this probe by foveating it. Inhibition of return was observed as a relative increase in the time required to locate these probes when they were in the general region of a previous fixation, but only when the search array remained present. Perhaps also reflecting inhibition of return, pre-probe saccades showed a strong directional bias away from a previously fixated region. Together with recent studies that replicate the finding of inhibition at distractor locations following serial but not parallel visual search - so long as the search array remains visible - these data strongly support the proposal that IOR functions to facilitate visual search by inhibiting orienting to previously examined locations.