The innate curiosity is triggered by the 'uncertain area' of the brain, so called because, when it was identified, very little was known about the neurons that made it up and which neurobiologists now believe play an important role in behaviors related to hunger and sleep. and fear.
This is what emerges from the study published in the journal Science and conducted on mice by researchers from the American University Vanderbilt, including the neuroscientist of Italian origin Cody Siciliano.
Formed by gray matter, the so-called uncertain zone, experts explain, it is connected to one of the nerve nuclei of the thalamus, among the innermost regions of the brain.
"Although the motivational drive to investigate the unknown is considered innate to human beings as hunger and thirst, it is an evolutionary prerequisite for complex learning - explain the authors of the study - the neurobiological mechanism underlying our curiosity and attraction towards the unknown is still largely elusive ”.
And it is precisely this curiosity that has prompted neurobiologists to try to unravel this nervous mechanism.
To do this, they studied how mice interacted with familiar and new objects, looking at their brain activity associated with different behaviors.
Thus, they discovered that what triggers curiosity is not the expectation of a reward, and the related nerve centers, as hypothesized so far, but the neurons of the uncertain area of the brain, through the neurotransmitter Gaba (γ-aminobutyric acid).