Origins of Curiosity
In a study performed by Kang (2009), curiosity related tasks were associated with increased activity in specific brain areas. Those were mainly Broca's area in the inferior frontal gyrus and left caudate in basal ganglia. Broca's area is mainly responsible for speech production and understanding of oral communication, whereas caudete structures participate in the learning process and are especially stimulated in the anticipated reward type of learning.
Figure 1: Areas in the brain stimulated by curiosity
This study further suggests that the gap between current level of understanding and the desired one, would be enlarged as the level of uncertainty was augmented. In other words, those who have limited comprehension of a subject, are more likely to have increased level of curiosity than those who are more knowledgable and thus their thirst for further information acquisition has already been quenched.
Another intriguing hypothesis was tested and supported by the experiment results of this study. The notion of curiosity was equated with expectation of learning related compensation, this way ampifying the knowledge acquisition process. Additionally, curiosity played a vital part in increased memory capacity for novel data. This was aruged that in case a person's initial response to a stimuli was rendered incorrect and his/her motivation to learn was enhanced by curiosity, there was a higher probability the correct response would be better remembered.
- Kang, Min Jeong. The Wick in the Candle of Learning : Epistemic Curiosity Activates Reward Circuitry and Enhances Memory. Psychological Science, August 01, 2009, p.967.