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Neuron. 2014 Oct 22;84(2):486-96. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060. Epub 2014 Oct 2.

States of curiosity modulate hippocampus-dependent learning via the dopaminergic circuit.

Author information

1
Center for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95618, USA. Electronic address: mjgruber@ucdavis.edu.
2
Center for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95618, USA.
3
Center for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95618, USA; Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Abstract

People find it easier to learn about topics that interest them, but little is known about the mechanisms by which intrinsic motivational states affect learning. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how curiosity (intrinsic motivation to learn) influences memory. In both immediate and one-day-delayed memory tests, participants showed improved memory for information that they were curious about and for incidental material learned during states of high curiosity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging results revealed that activity in the midbrain and the nucleus accumbens was enhanced during states of high curiosity. Importantly, individual variability in curiosity-driven memory benefits for incidental material was supported by anticipatory activity in the midbrain and hippocampus and by functional connectivity between these regions. These findings suggest a link between the mechanisms supporting extrinsic reward motivation and intrinsic curiosity and highlight the importance of stimulating curiosity to create more effective learning experiences.

PMID:
25284006
PMCID:
PMC4252494
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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