Current theories of the basal ganglia suggest a functional role in filtering stimuli that are competing for response selection. We hypothesised that damage to the basal ganglia, as occurs in Huntington's disease (HD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), may alter the effects of distractors on this filtering process. Fourteen HD subjects, 16 PD subjects, and age-matched healthy controls performed an ignored repetition test of negative priming. Negative priming was defined as a significant time cost in responding to a target that shared features with the distractor from the previous trial. Results indicated that whereas healthy controls and PD subjects showed normal negative priming, HD subjects failed to show negative priming. The results indicate that disruption to cells in the neostriatum, but not necessarily to cells in the substantia nigra, may affect selective attention by altering the influence of distractor stimuli competing for action.