The psychological, neurochemical and functional neuroanatomical mediators of the effects of positive and negative mood on executive functions

Rachel L. C. Mitchell, Louise Helen Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Citations (Scopus)


In this review we evaluate the cognitive and neural effects of positive and negative mood on executive function. Mild manipulations of negative mood appear to have little effect on cognitive control processes, whereas positive mood impairs aspects of updating, planning and switching. These cognitive effects may be linked to neurochemistry: with positive mood effects mediated by dopamine while negative mood effects may be mediated by serotonin levels. Current evidence on the effects of mood on regional brain activity during executive functions, indicates that the prefrontal cortex is a recurrent site of integration between mood and cognition. We conclude that there is a disparity between the importance of this topic and awareness of how mood affects, executive functions in the brain. Most behavioural and neuroimaging studies of executive function in normal samples do not explore the potential role of variations in mood, yet the evidence we outline indicates that even mild fluctuations in mood can have a significant influence on neural activation and cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-629
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Early online date7 Sep 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • mood
  • brain
  • fMRI
  • PET
  • executive functions
  • cognition
  • human working-memory
  • cognitive task-performance
  • lateral prefrontal cortex
  • tryptophan depletion
  • Parkinson's-Disease
  • healthy-volunteers
  • brain activity
  • orbitofrontal cortex
  • cortical function
  • emotional states

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