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Curiosity to Learn

October 13, 2014

Heightened curiosity about one subject primes people to learn less interesting information as well.



The curious brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s no surprise that curiosity about a particular topic – whether it’s baseball or paleontologycan boost a person’s ability to remember information about it. But UC Davis researchers have now discovered that when we’re in that curious frame of mine, our brains our better at absorbing other, unrelated information – even if it’s boring. Neuroscientist Charan Ranganath says their experiments could have implications for classroom learning.

CHARAN RANGANATH (University of California, Davis):

If you want to teach someone something, including things they’re not so interested in, you want to first stimulate the curiosity, but then find a gap in the knowledge and pose a question for them, and keep them in suspense. And once you get people in that state of motivation, like they have to find out the answer, that might help them suck up all this other information that they might not have otherwise picked up.


The research appears in the journal Neuron. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.