What is rhythmic sampling? The ability to focus (or attend) is often associated with successful task completion, but our research shows that the brain is wired to be distractible. That is, we attend in rhythmic bursts (at ~4Hz), with intervening periods when the brain checks in on the rest of the environment to make sure that the present focus is still the most important. Our attention is therefore never truly sustained or continuous, providing critical flexibility. Being overly focused on any particular stimulus might otherwise prevent us from detecting important information elsewhere (image: Tiger in a Tropical Storm by Henri Rousseau).