Invited Seminar at CES on 27 March 2019 at 3:00 pm titled "Of birds, monkeys and men: Unraveling the midbrain's role in attention" by Dr. Sridharan Devarajan from CNS,IISc
How does our brain enable us to pay attention selectively to important events in the world and ignore irrelevant events? While neuroscientists have largely studied how evolutionarily newer "forebrain" regions (e.g. neocortex) contribute to attention, comparatively little is known about how evolutionarily older "midbrain" regions control attention.
In this talk, I will describe our recent work seeking to understand the role of the superior colliculus (SC) -- an evolutionarily conserved midbrain structure -- in attention. The SC can be found in all vertebrates -- from fish to mammals -- and is known to be involved in controlling eye movements in all of these species. I will describe recent experiments in birds, monkeys and humans that show that the SC is also involved in controlling attention. Specifically our experiments show that the SC controls a particular component of attention called "spatial choice bias". Understanding how the SC controls attention will be critical for understanding how evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of attention operate in the brain.