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Boost Your Memory with a Dose of Curiosity

Boost Your Memory with a Dose of Curiosity

If you don’t know what year Bob Hope and Shirley Ross originally sang “Thanks for the Memory,” but are curious to find out, chances are you’ll remember once we tell you: 1938.

What’s the reason—if you’re curious—you’re likely to remember that the date is 1938? It turns out that when you are curious—and that curiosity is satisfied—it activates your brain’s dopamine reward system. According to research published in the journal Cell, when curiosity, defined as an intrinsic motivation to learn, stimulates production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, what you learn sticks with you longer. That sharper brain function can also increase your memory of other things happening around you.

Curiosity isn’t the only thing to activate the brain’s dopamine reward system—chocolate does too. And in addition to juicing up your dopamine response, chocolate seems to improve your memory because the flavanols it contains increase blood flow in the brain. That causes dendrites—the parts of neurons that receive messages – to grow, and that translates to increased brainpower.

So what lesson can you learn from all this? For a better memory, sit down with some really good dark chocolate (70% cacao) and start learning about whatever piques your interest.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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