States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit

Matthias J. Gruber, Bernard D. Gelman, Charan Ranganath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

169 Scopus citations

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 toinvestigate how curiosity (intrinsic motivation tolearn) influences memory. In both immediate andone-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 findingssuggest 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-496
Number of pages11
JournalNeuron
Volume84
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 22 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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