Curiosity

Curiosity
Curious children gather around photographer Toni Frissell, looking at her camera

Curiosity (from Latin curiosus "careful, diligent, curious," akin to cura "care") is an emotion related to natural inquisitive behavior such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and many animal species. The term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity. As this emotion represents a drive to know new things, curiosity is the fuel of science and all other disciplines of human study[citation needed].

Contents

Causes

Children peer over shoulders to see what their friends are reading.

Although many living beings have an innate capability of curiosity, it should not be categorized as an instinct because it is not a fixed action pattern; rather it is an innate basic emotion because while curiosity can be expressed in many ways, the expression of an instinct is typically more fixed and less flexible. Curiosity is common to human beings at all ages from infancy to old age, and is easy to observe in many other animal species. These include apes, cats, fish, reptiles, and insects; as well as many others.[citation needed] Many aspects of exploration are shared among all beings, as all known terrestrial beings share similar aspects: limited size and a need to seek out food sources.[vague]

In fact, in its development as wonder or admiration, it is generally curiosity that makes a human being want to become an expert in a field of knowledge.[citation needed] Though humans are sometimes considered particularly curious, they sometimes seem to miss the obvious when compared to other animals. What seems to happen is that human curiosity about curiosity itself (i.e. meta-curiosity or meta-interest), combined with the ability to think in an abstract way, lead to mimesis, fantasy and imagination - eventually leading to an especially human way of thinking ("human reason"), which is abstract and self-aware, or conscious. Readers of this page who are curious about meta-curiosity are experiencing meta-meta-curiosity.

Brain

The degree to which a person says that they have curiosity about trivia questions links to activity in both in the Broca's area in their left inferior frontal gyrus, and the putamen in their basal ganglia. This suggests people that are curious activate both parts of their brain that comprehend and anticipate information, and those in which such information acts as a secondary reinforcer or reward. Curiosity also increased activity in memory areas such as the hippocampus when subjects guessed trivia questions incorrectly and this suggests that it might act to enhance a person's long term memory for surprising new information. Such activation linked to curiosity predicted better recall of surprising answers one or two weeks later.[1] Dopamine receptors in part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus contribute to the generation of curiosity in mice.[2] These receptors are also important for plasticity and learning and therefore are proposed to represent a molecular link between intelligence and curiosity.[3]

Morbid curiosity

A crowd mills around the site of a car accident in the Czech Republic in 1980.

A morbid curiosity is an example of addictive curiosity the object of which is death, violence, or any other event that may hurt you physically or emotionally (see also: snuff film), the addictive emotion being explainable by meta-emotions exercising pressure on the spontaneous curiosity itself. According to Aristotle, in his Poetics we even "enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us." (This aspect of our nature is often referred to as the 'Car Crash Syndrome' or 'Trainwreck Syndrome', derived from the notorious supposed inability of passersby to ignore such accidents.)

References

  1. ^ Kang MJ, Hsu M, Krajbich IM, Loewenstein G, McClure SM, Wang JT, Camerer CF. (2009).The wick in the candle of learning: epistemic curiosity activates reward circuitry and enhances memory.Psychol Sci. 20(8):963-73. PMID 19619181
  2. ^ Saab BJ, Georgiou J, Nath A, Lee FJ, Wang M, Michalon A, Liu F, Mansuy IM, Roder JC. (2009). "NCS-1 in the dentate gyrus promotes exploration, synaptic plasticity, and rapid acquisition of spatial memory.". Neuron 63 (5): 643–56. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.08.014. PMID 19755107. 
  3. ^ http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Exercise+curiosity+enhance+memory+scientists/1996887/story.html

See also


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Curiosity — Cu ri*os i*ty (k[=u] r[i^]*[o^]s [i^]*t[y^]), n.; pl. {Curiosities} ( t[i^]z). [OE. curiouste, curiosite, OF. curioset[ e], curiosit[ e], F. curiosit[ e], fr. L. curiositas, fr. curiosus. See {Curious}, and cf. {Curio}.] 1. The state or quality… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Curiosity — (Mars Science Laboratory) Заказчик NASA Производитель …   Википедия

  • curiosity — ► NOUN (pl. curiosities) 1) a strong desire to know or learn something. 2) a unusual or interesting object or fact. ● curiosity killed the cat Cf. ↑curiosity killed the cat …   English terms dictionary

  • curiosity — (n.) late 14c., careful attention to detail, also desire to know or learn (originally usually in a bad sense), from O.Fr. curiosete curiosity, avidity, choosiness (Mod.Fr. curiosité), from L. curiositatem (nom. curiositas) desire of knowledge,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • curiosity — [n1] intense desire to know, understand concern, eagerness, inquiring mind, inquiringness, inquisitiveness, interest, interestingness, intrusiveness, investigation, meddlesomeness, meddling, mental acquisitiveness, nosiness, officiousness, prying …   New thesaurus

  • curiosity — index interest (concern), phenomenon (unusual occurrence) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • curiosity — [kyoor΄ē äs′ə tē] n. pl. curiosities [ME curiousite < OFr curiosité < L curiositas < curiosus: see CURIOUS] 1. a desire to learn or know 2. a desire to learn about things that do not properly concern one; inquisitiveness 3. anything… …   English World dictionary

  • curiosity — cu|ri|os|i|ty [ˌkjuəriˈɔsıti US ˌkjuriˈa:s ] n plural curiosities 1.) [singular, U] the desire to know about something ▪ I opened the packet just to satisfy my curiosity. ▪ The news aroused a lot of curiosity among local people. ▪ She decided to… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • curiosity — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ great, intense ▪ insatiable ▪ She has an insatiable curiosity about life. ▪ mild ▪ idle …   Collocations dictionary

  • curiosity */ — UK [ˌkjʊərɪˈɒsətɪ] / US [ˌkjʊrɪˈɑsətɪ] noun Word forms curiosity : singular curiosity plural curiosities 1) [singular/uncountable] a strong feeling of wanting to find out about something curiosity about: All children have a certain curiosity… …   English dictionary


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