Eli5: Why do we easier learn something we find interesting?


Let’s say I’m concentrating equally much while learning something I find interesting and something I don’t, I’ll still learn the things I found more interesting better than the things I didn’t find interesting?

In: Biology

Because you are more engaged. You are more actively listening and you are associating things you hear with other things you know and chose to remember.

Simply put, it’s because you’re more invested in learning that thing. If you really love marine biology and you’re at a conference and one speaker talks about dolphin habits and the second speaker talks about how toaster ovens are built, you’re probably going to be paying more attention to that first speaker and investing more energy into remembering what she says. And you’re probably not going to be paying as much attention to the anatomy of a toaster oven given by the second speaker – you might be hearing and listening to what the speaker says, but your brain is saying, “This is useless information so I don’t need to save it in the long-term memory banks.”

a) It could be that you’re paying more attention to it because you find it interesting.

b) It could be that you find it interesting because you’re able to better understand it than tougher concepts.

Everything in life is determined by the brain, and the brain wants to be happy. It does that by releasing chemicals that make your brain feel happy. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for this.
So when you do something, experience something that makes you happy or you find interesting, you release more dopamine and the brain is happy.
Your brain is very good at remembering what made you happy. it makes a connection that stores that ‘memory’.
So when you do activities around things that interest you, such as learning about an interesting topic, the brain knows there is a connection and releases dopamine, which in turn gives you a happy/comfortable feeling, so you will likely be doing/wanting more of it.

That is a super simplified version of it off course .. there are many more chemical processes going on and the brain is a supercomplex organic computer that processes things at superspeeds.