What Makes you Curious? (Ten ways to use Brain Based Research in Training #4)

We know curiosity killed the cat but what does it do for people? It makes them feel good. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Researchers at California Institute of Technology (http://authors.library.caltech.edu/22280/2/ssrn-id1308286%5B1%5D.pdf ) used fmri scanning to see that curiosity seems to activate the caudate, a part of the brain associated with anticipated reward. People were prepared to spend their own experimental resources to find out answers when they were more curious about the information and were more likely to remember the answer to a question they were curious about.

The fact that curiosity increases with uncertainty (up to a point), suggests that a small amount of knowledge can pique curiosity and prime our hunger for knowledge in the same way that the smell or look of food can cause us to feel hungry even if we weren’t before.

So if people feel rewarded when they are curious and remember things better it seems a good idea to increase curiosity levels. So what can you do?

Use surprising information or unlikely metaphors to draw attention to a topic.

Create a sense of mystery with a story but only reveal the key information at the end (Agatha Cristie style).

Experiment with starting an exercise without explaining why you are doing it – it may well enhance people’s memory for the learning.

Send curiosity inducing prework – a colleague of mine once sent prework including a £10 note to go and buy a cushion of their choice.

Send small ‘taster’ amounts of information as pre-work to get the ‘curiosity’ areas motivated to ask for me (join us for our annual open workshop How to be a brain friendly trainer on 22nd April to find out what we do)

I’m curious to hear your ideas…

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