Learning about activity and responses in the brain can allow insight into human behaviors, and why we act the way we do. One study has provided an interesting glimpse into what helps us to learn.
Recently published in Neuron, the findings from this research on how curiosity charges the brain to enhance learning gives an in depth look at our internal reactions to learning behaviors and memory retention.
It may be no surprise that the more intrigued we are about something, the more we want to know about it. However, what is it that actually sparks learning?
Those who participated in the study rated their curiosity levels accordingly in response to trivia questions, and were also presented with neutral face recognition imagery. At specific points of the activity the participants received brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging to record their responses to stimuli.
Expectedly, it was found that people better learned information when they were more curious about it.
However, it was further discovered that whenever an individual’s curiosity was initiated that they had an increased capacity to not only learn the presented material, but also other unrelated information. They were also able to demonstrate a better recollection of the learned material.
The researchers uncovered that whenever curiosity is roused, the brain’s dopamine reward center shows patterns of increased activity. Whenever curiosity was the motivator behind the learning the area significantly involved with memory formation in the brain, the hippocampus, also showed heightened activity.
Therefore, the amplified communication amid the brain’s reward circuit and the hippocampus seems to help prep the brain for better learning and retention of information.
According to the researchers, curiosity may place the brain in sort of a spell which allows it to learn and also recall various types of information. Thus, when our interest is sparked we may find that it is simply easier to want to learn, so we learn more.
The researchers pointed out that the findings could offer significant insight into neurological disorders, and provide information that could be used to increase learning and memory formations in those with deficits in these areas.
Additionally, the study’s results could prove relevant for educational purposes, and serve both occupational and classroom learners with a beneficial and proactive learning atmosphere. Also, understanding more about the roles of the brain’s regions that improve memory and one’s knowledge base could be applied to advance daily learning situations.
Uncovering the human brain’s impressive capabilities and how we can apply the information to enhance everyday life is welcome scientific research.
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