Specifying the role of the basal ganglia in attention switching

Our complex environment and the limited processing capacity of our brain require us to focus our attention on one thing at a time. This allows us to process a specific stream of information selectively in the presence of other information. For example at a party you can focus your attention on the voice of the person you are talking to, without actively processing all the other voices around you. Sometimes we fail to focus our attention, and get distracted. This is not always a bad thing; certain situations actually require us to redirect our attention, for example when someone calls your name. Research on attention has focused primarily on our ability to maintain our attention. In the current study we look how the brain switches our attention to novel important information.