The influence of sad mood on cognition

Emotion. 2007 Nov;7(4):802-11. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.7.4.802.


Neuroimaging has identified an overlapping network of brain regions whose activity is modulated by mood and cognition. Studies of depressed individuals have shown changes in perception, attention, memory, and executive functions. This suggests that mood has a pervasive effect on cognition. Direct evidence of the effect of sad mood on cognition is surprisingly limited, however. Published studies have generally addressed a single cognitive ability per study because the fleeting nature of laboratory-induced mood precludes extended testing, and robust findings are limited to mood effects on memory for emotional stimuli. In this study, sad mood was induced and prolonged, enabling the effects of mood to be assessed for an array of abilities, including those that share neural substrates with sad mood and those affected by depression. Sad mood affected memory for emotional words and facial emotion recognition, but not the other processes measured, with a significant nonuniformity of effect over tasks. These results are consistent with circumscribed effects of sad mood on certain emotion-related cognitive processes, but not on cognition more generally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attention
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychological Tests