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Having a Curious Mindset Improves Learning & Mental Health

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.


See medical disclaimer below.

The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Taylor Marks
Taylor Marks is a certified holistic health coach and professionally trained chef from The Institute of Culinary Education. Her passions include the latest research in health science, culinary arts, holistic wellness, and guiding others towards feeling their best.