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Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume 2014, Article ID 183924, 8 pages
Research Article

Inhibition of Return in Fear of Spiders: Discrepant Eye Movement and Reaction Time Data

Department of Psychology, Clinical and Biological Psychology and Psychotherapy, School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, L13, 15-17, 68131 Mannheim, Germany

Received 11 November 2013; Accepted 12 May 2014; Published 3 July 2014

Academic Editor: Gernot Horstmann

Copyright © 2014 Elisa Berdica et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Inhibition of return (IOR) refers to a bias against returning the attention to a previously attended location. As a foraging facilitator it is thought to facilitate systematic visual search. With respect to neutral stimuli, this is generally thought to be adaptive, but when threatening stimuli appear in our environment, such a bias may be maladaptive. This experiment investigated the influence of phobia-related stimuli on the IOR effect using a discrimination task. A sample of 50 students (25 high, 25 low in spider fear) completed an IOR task including schematic representations of spiders or butterflies as targets. Eye movements were recorded and to assess discrimination among targets, participants indicated with button presses if targets were spiders or butterflies. Reaction time data did not reveal a significant IOR effect but a significant interaction of group and target; spider fearful participants were faster to respond to spider targets than to butterflies. Furthermore, eye-tracking data showed a robust IOR effect independent of stimulus category. These results offer a more comprehensive assessment of the motor and oculomotor factors involved in the IOR effect.