ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 256-273.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00256

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇



  1. 南通大学教育科学学院, 江苏 南通 226000
  • 收稿日期:2022-02-11 出版日期:2023-02-15 发布日期:2022-11-10
  • 通讯作者: 陈念劬
  • 基金资助:

From induction to relief: Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the curiosity feedback loop

CHEN Nianqu()   

  1. School of Education Science, Nantong University, Nantong 226000, China
  • Received:2022-02-11 Online:2023-02-15 Published:2022-11-10
  • Contact: CHEN Nianqu


好奇是驱动信息寻求行为最主要的内部动机。从感知信息缺口使好奇发生, 到对控制进行价值评估, 信息寻求行为发生, 再到目标信息获得使好奇满足, 每一环节都受到当前信息输入和上一环节反馈输出的影响, 它们构成了一个反馈循环。该循环还嵌入在个体的终生发展过程中, 随着经验积累和脑的发育不断变化。好奇反馈循环模型融入了控制的期望价值模型和贝叶斯强化学习框架, 整合了来自监控系统、奖赏系统、控制系统等多个脑功能系统的研究证据, 为理解好奇的神经生理机制提供了新思路。

关键词: 好奇, 内部动机, 强化学习, 信息寻求, 好奇满足


The curiosity feedback loop model considers the nature of curiosity as intrinsic motivation, regards information-seeking behaviors as an evoked outcome of curiosity, emotions as a concomitant product of curiosity, and emphasizes the dynamic and changing nature of curiosity. The model incorporates the expected value of control model and Bayesian reinforcement learning framework, and integrates research evidence from multiple functional brain systems such as the monitoring system, reward system, and control system. The model provides new ideas for understanding the neurophysiological mechanisms of curiosity.

The curiosity feedback loop model decomposes a curious event into the following six processes: perceived information gap, curiosity generation, value assessment of control, information seeking, curiosity satisfaction, and information integration. Specifically, an individual develops a desire for information (reward) as a result of perceived information gap, and thus curiosity occurs. Subsequently, the individual performs a value assessment of control based on the current activity state or the expected outcome of potential behavior (e.g., information seeking). The decision to initiate information seeking is made by assessing how much control is needed to be exerted for the next behavior. Information seeking changes the information input, which in turn changes the individual state, and the new state becomes a cue for the value assessment of control, influencing a new round of information-seeking behavior. Information seeking corresponds to different outcomes: curiosity satisfied or curiosity unsatisfied. Curiosity satisfaction implies acquisition of information reward, which tends to increase the individual's estimate of the expected value of the new information and the validity of the behavior, which in turn reinforces information-seeking behavior. The further integration of information leads to the expansion of prior knowledge, and the expanded prior knowledge makes it easier for individuals to realize new information gap and stimulates new information-seeking behavior. This process creates a positive feedback loop that contributes to sustainable knowledge acquisition. Conversely, if information acquisition fails, the positive feedback loop will be interrupted.

This dynamic loop of curiosity is embedded in the lifelong development of the individual, changing with the accumulation of experience and the development of brain. On the one hand, it is influenced and limited by various physiological changes in life development; on the other hand, the repeated consolidation of the curiosity loop also causes physiological changes that in turn affect an individual’s life development. In simple terms, the two curiosity-related systems - the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems - contribute to short-term attention, memory, and information-seeking behavior, and are also beneficial for the long-term maintenance and improvement of cognitive function.

Curiosity studies become increasingly multidisciplinary and cross-cutting, and therefore a unified concept and framework is needed as a basis for further scientific discussion. Regarding future curiosity research, increased attention could be given to: (1) strengthening the focus on curiosity satisfaction; (2) improving existing paradigms for curiosity research; (3) enhancing comparisons of the use of internal and external rewards; and (4) valuing the developmental aspects of curiosity research.

Key words: curiosity, intrinsic motivation, reinforcement learning, information seeking, curiosity relief