The capacity for selective attention appears to be required by any animal responding to an environment containing multiple objects, although this has been difficult to study in smaller animals such as insects. Clear operational characteristics of attention however make study of this crucial brain function accessible to any animal model. Whereas earlier approaches have relied on freely behaving paradigms placed in an ecologically relevant context, recent tethered preparations have focused on brain imaging and electrophysiology in virtual reality environments. Insight into brain activity during attention-like behavior has revealed key elements of attention in the insect brain. Surprisingly, a variety of brain structures appear to be involved, suggesting that even in the smallest brains attention might involve widespread coordination of neural activity.
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