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How curiosity aids learning

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How curiosity aids learning

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I’ve written previously about the importance of passion in a social business.  The pace of change is so fast in the modern world that it is essential that you love what you do, as that will support the investment required to stay on top of the changes impacting your particular field.

Having a learning and developmental mindset is also an invaluable asset in the modern workplace.  A new study highlights just how valuable curiosity is when we attempt to learn something.  The study looks inside our brain to see exactly what happens when our curiosity is piqued by a subject, and how this can subsequently boost our ability to learn.

The findings suggest that curiosity has a huge impact.  You might already imagine that curiosity could help us learn things in a topic we were already interested in, but the study goes further and suggests that it can also help us with learning things we weren’t originally curious about at all.

“Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it,” the researchers say.

The study saw participants first rating their specific interest in finding out the answers to various questions.  Whilst they waited for the answer to the question, they were shown a picture of a face that was completely unrelated to the question at hand.  They were then asked to recall which of the faces they had remembered at a later date.

It emerged that people had much better recollection of the faces when they were displayed after a question that the participant was highly curious about.  What’s more, this recollection persisted, even days after the original test.

When the brains of the participants were scanned, it revealed that participants were more motivated when they were in a curious state.

“So curiosity recruits the reward system, and interactions between the reward system and the hippocampus seem to put the brain in a state in which you are more likely to learn and retain information, even if that information is not of particular interest or importance,” the researchers conclude.

Maybe the key to recruiting the kind of people that will thrive in a social business therefore, is to look out for those with an inherent sense of curiosity about them.

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