Curiosité souris

Identification of curious neurons in the brain

The spontaneous desire to explore the world around us matches an instinct already in mice, reveals a study published in the journal Dutch researchers. Science. “Studying pure, uninterested curiosity in animals is not easy because it can be driven by many factors such as hunger, thirst and the search for a sexual partner. However, this interesting study seems to have arrived,” Etienne Coutureau, a specialist in the neural bases of exploratory behavior at the CNRS, testifies.

When the Unconfirmed Zone is activated

For this, its authors used the spontaneous exploratory behavior of the mouse once it discovered something new in its environment, whether it was an organism or a homologue. Then the rodent begins to smell, nibble, or even seize, showing a stereotypical exploratory behavior that allows the animal to store new knowledge. “Following the effect of memorizing surprise, seeking information on what appears new in the entourage is vital to animals as it is a prerequisite for any learning, explains Etienne Coutoro. Thanks to that they will be able to anticipate future dangers or at least make the best choices.” Researchers at the Amsterdam Institute of Neuroscience in the Netherlands have succeeded in identifying the neural circuit behind this spontaneous exploratory behaviour. They showed that a region of the brain located in the hypothalamus is still unknown, which is Unconfirmed area or ‘unconfirmed area’, once the animal begins to closely explore an object or congener.

Activating these neurons awakens the senses

An important point of their presentation, the specific activation of neurons in this area highlights exploratory behavior in fasting animals that nonetheless have food on their side. On the contrary, the inhibition of these neurons has the opposite effect: it reduces the time to explore the unknown or homologous organism. The activation of neurons in the uncertain area awakens all of the animal’s senses when it comes to identifying an unfamiliar element in its environment. “This deep region is very conserved in mammals, Etienne Coutoro notes, By its structure and connections to the rest of the brain, it must therefore have an equivalent in humans.” Simple curiosity that makes us go deeper into reading an article Science and the future So it obeys the same powerful spring that has allowed our species to discover the world around it.

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