Searching for inhibition of return in the rat using the covert orienting of attention task

Wagner, Ulf; Baker, Lucy and Rostron, Claire (2014). Searching for inhibition of return in the rat using the covert orienting of attention task. Animal Cognition, 17(5) pp. 1121–1135.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0745-0

URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-01...

Abstract

Inhibition of return (IOR) is an important psychological construct describing inhibited responses to previously attended locations. In humans, it is investigated using Posner’s cueing paradigm. This paradigm requires central visual fixation and detection of cued stimuli to the left or right of the fixation point. Stimuli can be validly or invalidly cued, appearing in the same or opposite location to the cue. Although a rat version of the spatial cueing paradigm (the covert orienting of attention task) does exist, IOR has so far not been demonstrated. We therefore investigated whether IOR could be robustly demonstrated in adult male rats using the covert orienting of attention task. This task is conducted in holed wall operant chambers with the central three holes mimicking the set-up for Posner cueing. Across four samples of rats (overall n = 84), we manipulated the following task parameters: stimulus onset asynchronies (Experiments 1–3), cue brightness (Experiment 1b) and the presence of a central reorienting event (Experiment 4). In Experiment 1, we also investigated strain differences by comparing Lister Hooded rats to Sprague–Dawley rats. Although Lister Hooded rats briefly showed evidence of IOR (Experiment 1a, and see Online Resource 1 data), we were unable to replicate this finding in our other experiments using different samples of this strain. Taken together, our findings suggest that IOR cannot be robustly demonstrated in the rat using the covert orienting of attention task conducted in holed wall operant chambers.

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