Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Attention Seeking

The brain circuits involved in behavioural responses

09 March 2021

Attention Seeking

How does the brain choose what to focus on? – paying 'selective attention' to a choice of computer pixels, moving cars, snowballs coming from all angles. Seeking clues in the brain of a genetic relative, scientists decided to put a zebrafish like this one into virtual reality – simulating predators coming in from the left and right at the same time. Watching as neurons fire inside the conveniently-transparent fish, researchers trace out brain circuits driving different choices – pay attention to one threat and dart in the opposite direction, or take both predators into account and heroically swim through the middle. Identifying these brain circuits sets the scene for studies into how and why the different responses occur – while searching for similar circuits helping us make our way in the world outside.

Written by John Ankers

Published in Neuron, December 2020

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