Curiosity is characterized by a desire for something new and is regarded as a fundamental characteristic of the human species. Motivation and drive are strongly dependent on curiosity, since humans receive feedback from the body's reward system when satisfying their curiosity. In dementia, for example, reduced curiosity may occur with symptomatic loss of motivation.

What is the curiosity?

Curiosity is characterized by a desire for something new and is considered a fundamental characteristic of the human species.

Curiosity is a delightful desire to discover something new. Often curiosity is equated in particular with the desire for knowledge according to the previously hidden. The Greek philosopher Plato described curiosity as the beginning of everything. People like Galileo considered the property the strongest engine of problem solving and Einstein attributed his talent for discovery to curiosity.

For the evolution of the human species curiosity has played one of the most crucial roles. Accordingly, curiosity constitutes a fundamental property of man and is considered to be one of the most characteristic features of human personality.

The neurology has long known that for character traits especially the frontal lobe of the brain plays a role. As a character trait, curiosity in the forebrain would have to be found. According to recent studies, however, scientists no longer assume that curiosity has a permanent place in the brain. Instead, the medical-neurological definition of curiosity now refers to a whole network, as it makes up the human brain itself.

Function & Task

As the University of Bonn has found out, curious people have a better networked brain. Individual links in the brains of study participants correlated significantly with their stated degree of curiosity and curiosity behavior.

Curiosity was particularly important in the study on the connection between hippocampus and striatum. The striatum houses the body's own reward system and thus corresponds to the brain's share, which spurs people on to actions, provides motivations and arouses interest in action. The hippocampus, on the other hand, mainly houses memory and also emits messengers that affect the reward system. The stronger the connection between the striatum and the hippocampus, the more likely people are to try new things.

Presumably, the basic connection between the two areas is innate, but mature fully in the first few months of life or years of life. In this context, impulses which the toddler receives from the environment are probably the most important factors. Such impulses attract the attention and could be responsible for the fact that the connection between striatum and hippocampus strengthens far and wide. This would explain the different degree of curiosity, as people basically have it.

Curiosity has a positive effect on people in many ways. The more curious the person, the more open he is for new things. He learns more easily, is often happier and is easy in problem solving.

Since the satisfaction of curiosity causes messengers such as dopamine via the reward system of the striatum to a strong feeling of happiness, curiosity is considered one of the most important impulses and motivations. Curiosity, according to the University of California, is even high in some ways. Thus, a person whose curiosity was once satisfied, after the feeling of satisfied curiosity even become addicted. The satisfaction of curiosity ultimately makes more and more curious.

Diseases & complaints

People with pathologically reduced curiosity mainly suffer from listlessness. They feel less motivation to perform or live their lives. Different diseases can minimize curiosity. Physical causes are for example in dementia. As soon as the connections between the striatum and the hippocampus break down in the context of dementia, the curiosity of the patient rapidly falls and loss of motivation occurs.

Damage to this brain network can also occur in the context of other diseases. In this context, stroke as well as cerebral hemorrhage due to trauma, bacterial inflammation, tumors, autoimmune inflammation, congenital brain malformations or cerebral hypoxia.

In addition to these causes, reduced curiosity may be associated with symptomatic loss of motivation in the context of depression, schizophrenia or stupor. The stupor is probably the most radical example: it is a state of rigor that patients experience fully conscious. Often the phenomenon joins severe depression or schizophrenia.

Since some drugs and drugs on the reward system in the striatum act, can reduce the curiosity and motivation of a person in the context of drug intake or addictions. Hormones also affect different processes within the brain. Hormonal disorders caused by diseases of the thyroid gland or other glandular organs may also affect a person's curiosity.

Pathological changes of curiosity and motivation must always be distinguished from physiologically low curiosity. As noted above, curiosity is likely to be shaped by impulses during early childhood. Thus, the measure differs from person to person without pathological value depending on the experienced attention impulses.

On the other hand, anyone who experiences deprivation in early childhood in the sense of social impoverishment experiences a pathological reduction of curiosity. In situations of deprivation, adolescents do not receive enough attention and therefore not enough stimulus to allow physiological brain development.

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