February 28, 2021

Does dopamine synthesis capacity predict individual variation in curiosity?

Curiosity, which can be defined as intrinsically motivated information-seeking, is an important driving force in our everyday lives. Based on previous evidence demonstrating a link between information prediction errors and dopamine neuronal firing rates, we asked whether the drive to seek information varies with individual differences in dopamine synthesis capacity. In order to investigate this, we let participants perform a lottery task in which we independently manipulated outcome uncertainty, outcome valence (gains versus losses) and expected value, and asked participants to indicate their curiosity for each presented lottery. In a separate session, participants underwent an [18F]DOPA PET scan to quantify their dopamine synthesis capacity. We replicate previous behavioral results, showing that curiosity is a function of outcome uncertainty as well as outcome valence (gain versus loss). However, we found no evidence that curiosity or the sensitivity to outcome uncertainty, outcome valence and expected value was related to participants dopamine synthesis capacity in the ventral striatum, the caudate nucleus or the putamen. These findings stress the need for further studies into the role of dopamine in (different types of) curiosity.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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