Students asking questions and then exploring the answers. That’s something any good teacher lives for. And at the heart of it all is curiosity. But why? What, exactly, is curiosity and how does it work? A study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better learn and retain information. “There’s this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding,” Ranganath explains. This circuit lights up when we’re curious. When the circuit is activated, our brains release a chemical called dopamine which gives us a high. “The dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between cells that are involved in learning.” Indeed, when the researchers later tested participants on what they learned, those who were more curious were more likely to remember the right answers.
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