Curiosity is the drive to know or to learn something.  It’s a simple definition and we all recognize what it means.

What happens in the brain when a person’s curiosity is piqued is a whole other matter.  Neuroscientist Matthias Gruber explains that curiosity activates the brain’s “wanting” system, in the same way any other type of anticipation does.  It also activates the memory centres, which appears to have an effect on learning.  The surprising finding is that during the period between a person’s curiosity being stimulated and the curiosity being satisfied, any type of learning that takes place – not just learning related to the subject of curiosity – is much better retained.

The take-away is that piquing students’ curiosity not only helps to maintain motivation, it is also strongly instrumental in consolidating all the learning.

Watch Gruber’s talk here: