Better mood and better performance. Learning rule-described categories is enhanced by positive mood.
Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS
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Theories of mood and its effect on cognitive processing suggest that positive mood may allow for increased cognitive flexibility. This increased flexibility is associated with the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, both of which play crucial roles in hypothesis testing and rule selection. Thus, cognitive tasks that rely on behaviors such as hypothesis testing and rule selection may benefit from positive mood, whereas tasks that do not rely on such behaviors should not be affected by positive mood. We explored this idea within a category-learning framework. Positive, neutral, and negative moods were induced in our subjects, and they learned either a rule-described or a non-rule-described category set. Subjects in the positive-mood condition performed better than subjects in the neutral- or negative-mood conditions in classifying stimuli from rule-described categories. Positive mood also affected the strategy of subjects who classified stimuli from non-rule-described categories.