Paying Attention

Our brains are constantly bombarded with sensory information. The ability to distinguish relevant information from irrelevant distractions is a critical skill, one that is impaired in many brain disorders. By studying the visual system of humans and animals, Robert Desimone has shown that when we attend to something specific, neurons in certain brain regions fire in unison – like a chorus rising above the noise – allowing the relevant information to be “heard” more efficiently by other regions of the brain.