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Departmental Seminar: "How functional-structural brain connectivity predicts reward- and curiosity-related memory" Dr Matthias Gruber, Cardiff University

Location: H1.48 Humanities Annex

Dr Matthias Gruber

How functional-structural brain connectivity predics reward- and curiosity-related memory

Host: Dr Elliot Ludvig


It is widely assumed that curiosity has a fundamental impact on learning and memory. Although initial laboratory-based studies on curiosity states have indeed demonstrated curiosity-related memory enhancements, we still have a very limited understanding of the neural and cognitive mechanisms that distinguish curiosity-guided learning. In my talk, I will present a series of behavioral and neuroimaging studies that provide evidence of how curiosity states prioritize learning and memory consolidation for high-curiosity information but also for incidental information encountered during high-curiosity states. Critically, the stimulation of curiosity – but not the satisfaction of curiosity – mediates the positive effects of curiosity on memory via activation of the dopaminergic circuit and the hippocampus, which are essential brain areas for forming long-lasting memories. In addition, individual differences in the structural-functional connections between dopaminergic regions and the hippocampus predict the magnitude of the curiosity-related memory enhancements. Importantly, these findings and recent ideas about curiosity from psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and animal neuroscience show parallels to the neural mechanisms associated with reward, novelty, prediction errors, and exploration. Drawing from this evidence, I will present a new theoretical framework – the Prediction, Appraisal, Curiosity, and Exploration (PACE) framework - that can guide future research on how curiosity states lead to enhanced learning and memory consolidation of curiosity target and incidental information.


Dr. Matthias Gruber is a Senior Research Fellow and the Group Leader of the Motivation & Memory Lab at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), UK. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London and was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Gruber’s current research is funded by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship by Wellcome and the Royal Society.

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