Shifting from a high-pressure mindset to a curious one can enhance people’s memory, according to recent research from Duke University. Participants who imagined planning a heist as art thieves in a virtual museum had better memory retention of the paintings they saw compared to those who focused on executing the heist in-the-moment. This distinction in motivation, between urgent goal-seeking and curious exploration for a future goal, has practical applications in real-world challenges such as vaccine adoption, climate change action, and psychiatric treatment. The study’s participants played the same computer game but showed different memory outcomes based on their mindset. Urgency may be more useful for short-term problems, while curiosity enhances long-term memory and information retention. Researchers are exploring how urgency and curiosity activate different parts of the brain, with the amygdala involved in forming focused memories under urgent mode, and dopamine in the hippocampus supporting detailed long-term memories during curious exploration. This understanding may lead to therapeutic applications in psychiatry to promote flexibility and empower individuals to manage their neurochemical responses.