Matthias Gruber, Cardiff University, UK
The neurocognitive mechanisms of curiosity states on learning
Abstract: Little is known about the neural mechanisms by which curiosity affects learning. In a series of experiments, I will present evidence that show how curiosity states influence long-term memory. We found that participants showed improved memory for information that they were curious about, but also for incidental material learned during states of high curiosity. Results from an FMRI revealed increased activity in areas associated with the dopaminergic circuit during states of high curiosity. Importantly, individual variability in curiosity-driven memory benefits for incidental material was supported by anticipatory activity in the dopaminergic midbrain and hippocampus. In addition, evidence from an EEG and several behavioral experiments further characterize how curiosity enhances the drive to learn. In general, the findings highlight the importance of stimulating curiosity in order to create more effective learning experiences.