Brain Canada Brain Canada
FR Donate

Neural Basis Underlying the Transition Between Attention States

Principal Investigator:
  • Julia Kam, University of Calgary

Project Overview

How do we seamlessly transition between reading a novel and reminiscing our last vacation before the pandemic? The ability to flexibly shift our attention between the external environment (i.e. reading a novel) and our inner world (i.e. reminiscing our last vacation) is crucial for optimal performance of activities in our daily lives. The proposed project will determine how the brain controls this seamless transition between attention states using brain recordings from neurosurgical patients who have electrodes implanted in their brains as part of their clinical procedure. We will then use direct brain stimulation to determine whether we can improve individuals’ ability to gain control over the transition into external and internal attention states. As we will only examine the healthy parts of the patients’ brains, our results will be derived from brain recordings that reflect healthy neural activity. This research will reveal how the brain regulates this fundamental human behavior of shifting between external and internal attention, a ubiquitous process that a healthy mind regularly engages in throughout the day. It will also provide insight into interventions for enhancing this capacity in healthy individuals, and combating its deterioration in developmental, psychiatric, and neurological disorders.