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A Neuropsychological Theory of Positive Affect and Its Influence on Cognition



Positive affect systematically influences performance on many cognitive tasks. A new neuropsychological theory is proposed that accounts for many of these effects by assuming that positive affect is associated with increased brain dopamine levels. The theory predicts or accounts for influences of positive affect on olfaction, the consolidation of long-term (i.e., episodic) memories, working memory, and creative problem solving. For example, the theory assumes that creative problem solving is improved, in part, because increased dopamine release in the anterior cingulate improves cognitive flexibility and facilitates the selection of cognitive perspective.