Friday, June 18, 2021

Is human brain hungry for knowledge?

Studies regarding the curiosity in humans show that it is a driving force towards the advancement of human intellect, in fact even as early as learning as a child.Have you ever wondered the mind always wants to know more? This feeling of curiosity is mirrored in so many myths — for example, Eve just had to know what secrets the Tree of Knowledge held. Or Orpheus when he tried to rescue Eurydice. Pandora, despite all the strict warnings she received, wanted to know what was in the box!

Although these myths make it look like being curious could be one of the worst traits in a person, scientific research suggests otherwise. It is in fact a fundamental part of human nature supporting a number of various intellectual behaviours which range from early learning in children to scientific discoveries. After all, Newton wouldn’t have discovered gravity if he hadn’t been allowed to be curious.

A meta-analysis has shown that intellectual curiosity predicts academic performance over and above intelligence. Also,  there are benefits of curiosity in enhancing long-term consolidation of learning and memory. In fact empirical literature has shown that there is a lot of positive outcomes associated with curiosity.

Well, it looks like our brain looks for knowledge the same way the stomach looks at food.Curiosity can be seen as a reward-learning process for acquiring knowledge. It has been observed that both animals and humans are willing to risk small amounts to satisfy their curiosity about a future reward despite knowing that the outcome will remain unchanged.
Researchers found that curiosity appears to be driven by the same neurobiological process as hunger.

Another interesting thing that our brain does when it has been given new information is release dopamine (the pleasure-inducing chemical).Other researchers have found out that along with the reward system, regions in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (dedicated to working memory), allow us to distinguish between new and previously experienced stimuli which plays a role in generating curiosity.

According to them, the dentate gyrus (a part of the hippocampus), is the most responsible center for curiosity.However, how exactly does dopamine play a role and other aspects of curiosity still remain a mystery.And remember even though the idiom says, “Curiosity killed the cat….”, it ends with ….satisfaction brought it back”.

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