Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Campus Box 345
D420 Muenzinger Hall
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0345
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 attentional control.
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.