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B&C Tuesday Seminar “How curiosity affects learning and information seeking via the dopaminergic circuit”
13 June 2023 @ 13 h 30 min - 14 h 30 min
Abstract : Over the last decade, research on curiosity – the desire to seek new information – has been rapidly growing. Several studies have shown that curiosity elicits activity within the dopaminergic circuit and thereby enhances hippocampus-dependent learning. However, given this new field of research, we do not have a good understanding yet of (i) how curiosity-based learning changes across the lifespan, (ii) why some people show better learning improvements due to curiosity than others, and (iii) whether lab-based research on curiosity translates to how curiosity affects information seeking in real life. In this talk, I will present a series of behavioural and neuroimaging studies that address these three questions about curiosity. First, I will present findings on how curiosity and interest affect learning differently in childhood and adolescence. Second, I will show data on how inter-individual differences in the magnitude of curiosity-based learning depend on the strength of resting-state functional connectivity within the cortico-mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit. Third, I will present findings on how the level of resting-state functional connectivity within this circuit is also associated with the frequency of real-life information seeking (i.e., about Covid-19-related news). Together, our findings help to refine our recently proposed framework – the Prediction, Appraisal, Curiosity, and Exploration (PACE) framework – that attempts to integrate theoretical ideas on the neurocognitive mechanisms of how curiosity is elicited, and how curiosity enhances learning and information seeking. Furthermore, our findings highlight the importance of curiosity research to better understand how curiosity can be harnessed to improve learning and information seeking in real life.