Inhibition of return (IOR) refers to a slower response to a target appearing at the previously attended location (also called the cued location) than to a target appearing at an unattended location (uncued location). Inhibitory tagging (IT) involving the attentional executive network is suggested to function by blocking or disconnecting the link between a stimulus representation and the corresponding response mapping at the cued location. Data from behavioral and neuroscience studies are integrated to discuss the IT theory. Behaviorally, the IT effect can be measured by the comparisons of the priming or conflict effects at the cued location versus effects at the uncued location. It has been suggested that IT can reduce or even eliminate the priming effect in semantic priming tasks and the conflict effect in the Stroop (either color-word or spatial Stroop) and the Flanker interference tasks at previously attended locations. Neural correlates of IT are also summarized. Specifically, the posterior parietal lobe, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are suggested to be involved in IT. Reduced event-related potentials (ERPs) components at the cued location provided evidences for IT; these included the N450 component, which is related to conflict resolution processing, and the N400 component, which is related to semantic priming processing, Finally, some comments and prospective remarks on IT are given.
Keywords: Attentional network, inhibition of return (IOR), inhibitory tagging (IT), spatial cueing procedure, stimulus-response link.