Dr. Banich's research examines how the neural architecture
of the human brain help us to pay attention. Attention comprises
a large set of abilities, all of which help us to select specific
information on which to focus our processing. Attention can
act to select information on the basis of sensory characteristics
(such as looking for your friend's red coat), on the basis
of spatial locations (such as looking for your friend deplaning
at Gate 38), on the basis of conceptual information (such
as the idea of "furniture"), or aid in selecting a response.
Attention allows us to remain vigilant and alert (especially
in the face of boredom and monotony) and enables us to do
more than one task at a time.
Given the diversity of abilities that falls under the rubric
of attention, it is not surprising that it involves a multiplicity
of brain regions. The focus of Dr. Banich's work is twofold.
First, she works to understand the specific roles that these
brain regions play in each of these different aspects of attention.
Second, because attention relies on such a large set of brain
regions, she investigates how their interrelationship supports
The research techniques that she uses in her investigations
are functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral
methods. In collaboration with others, her investigations
also involve electrophysiological methods. Part of her research
program examines attentional control in the normal human brain,
whereas other portions of her research program examine attentional
control in individuals with attention deficit disorder, multiple
sclerosis and substance abuse.