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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

March 2011, Vol. 23, No. 3, Pages 524-539
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21380)
© 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Positive Affect Modulates Flexibility and Evaluative Control
Article PDF (472 KB)
Abstract

The ability to interact with a constantly changing environment requires a balance between maintaining the currently relevant working memory content and being sensitive to potentially relevant new information that should be given priority access to working memory. Mesocortical dopamine projections to frontal brain areas modulate working memory maintenance and flexibility. Recent neurocognitive and neurocomputational work suggests that dopamine release is transiently enhanced by induced positive affect. This ERP study investigated the role of positive affect in different aspects of information processing: in proactive control (context maintenance and updating), reactive control (flexible adaptation to incoming task-relevant information), and evaluative control in an AX-CPT task. Subjects responded to a target probe if it was preceded by a specific cue. Induced positive affect influenced the reactive and evaluative components of control (indexed by the N2 elicited by the target and by the error-related negativity elicited after incorrect responses, respectively), whereas cue-induced proactive preparation and maintenance processes remained largely unaffected (as reflected in the P3b and the contingent negative variation components of the ERP).