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Curiosity and mesolimbic functional connectivity drive information seeking in real life

Eschmann, Kathrin C. J. ORCID:, Pereira, Duarte F. M. M., Valji, Ashvanti, Dehmelt, Vera and Gruber, Matthias J. ORCID: 2023. Curiosity and mesolimbic functional connectivity drive information seeking in real life. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 18 (1) , nsac050. 10.1093/scan/nsac050

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Curiosity reflects an individual’s intrinsic motivation to seek information in order to close information gaps. In laboratory-based experiments, both curiosity and information seeking have been associated with enhanced neural dynamics in the mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit. However, it is unclear whether curiosity and dopaminergic dynamics drive information seeking in real life. We investigated (i) whether curiosity predicts different characteristics of real-life information seeking and (ii) whether functional connectivity within the mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit is associated with information seeking outside the laboratory. Up to 15 months before the COVID-19 pandemic, curiosity and anxiety questionnaires and a 10-minute resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging session were conducted. In a follow-up survey early during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants repeated the questionnaires and completed an additional questionnaire about their COVID-19-related information seeking. Individual differences in curiosity but not anxiety were positively associated with the frequency of information-seeking behaviour. Additionally, the frequency of information seeking was predicted by individual differences in resting-state functional connectivity between the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens. The present translational study paves the way for future studies on the role of curiosity in real-life information seeking by showing that both curiosity and the mesolimbic dopaminergic functional network support real-life information-seeking behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1749-5016
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 September 2022
Date of Acceptance: 5 August 2022
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2023 19:44

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