Most people have had trouble remembering something they just heard. Now, a University of Missouri researcher found that forgetfulness may have something to do with being in a good mood. Elizabeth Martin, a doctoral student of psychology in the College of Arts and Science, has found that being in a good mood decreases your working memory capacity.
"Working memory, for example, is the ability to recall items in a conversation as you are having it," Martin said. "This explains why you might not be able to remember a phone number you get at a party when you are having a good time. This research is the first to show that positive mood can negatively impact working memory storage capacity. This shows that although systems in the brain are connected, it is possible to affect one process but not others."
Researchers gauged study participants' mood before and after showing them a video clip. Some participants were shown a segment of a stand-up comedy routine, while others watched an instructional video on how to install flooring. Following the videos, those that viewed the comedy routine were in significantly better moods after viewing the video, while the mood of those that viewed the flooring video had not changed.
After watching the videos, both groups completed a memory test. This test provides several numbers to a participant through headphones at a rate of four numbers per second. After the recording stopped, participants were asked to recall the last six numbers in order. Those that watched the comedy routine and were in a better mood performed significantly worse on the task.
"While working memory storage is decreased, being in a good mood is not all bad," Martin said. "Being in a good mood has been shown to increase creative problem-solving skills and other aspects of thinking."
Martin said future research should analyze the impact of mood on working memory storage capacity in real life situations, such as a classroom setting.
"The Influence of Positive Mood on Different Aspects of Cognitive Control," was published earlier this year in the journal Cognition and Emotion.
University of Missouri-Columbia: http://www.missouri.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Wow, I have so many thoughts about the implications of this finding. First off, hooray for any conclusive research that could improve our classroom settings. In order for us to become evolutionarily competitive, we need to start altering the mode in which our children are learning. If we can somehow understand how to teach children important information through the adjustment of the mood in the classroom (ie: dimmer lights, breathing exercises before class, deeper tones or music in the background), they will retain information so much more effectively! Opposite to that would be, if we provide an upbeat atmosphere, creativity will soar (if that is the goal of course). Secondly, with regards to mental health, for those with mood disorders, I often find they are very intelligent and this finding would absolutely conclude as to why. As a worker in the mental health field and have noticed that many with mood disorders, although they, perhaps have a chemical imbalance, can also sometimes choose to be moody, and maybe for good reason? Could it be to subconsciously overcome the poor memory associated with being in a good mood? If so, this would imply that moodiness is a learned behavior (that which can be unlearned); a very very exciting revelation for the mental health world! Thirdly, with regards to relationships, for those who find themselves often in a bad mood around their partner, it may again, be a learned trait in order to maintain their level of power or control over their own mind and memory. As we know for many, loss of power in a relationship is a deep-rooted fear. Education of these findings to those would help couples work through each other's short-comings perhaps.
Thank you for this article/study and continued advancement into understanding the human mind. I have been waiting for a study like this to come about!
Pharmaceutical companies are suddenly trading entire divisions the way sports teams swap players. Glaxo, Novartis and Ely Lily are all involved in a complicated deal announced Tuesday, and so far this year, five deals exceeding $2 billion have been announced. What's driving the deal-making?
Sun seekers who leave northern Europe for warmer climes are marginally less happy than those left behind, a study found.
The deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has neither no definitive origin, nor a known cure, so global public health officials are becoming increasingly concerned by the Saudi government's sluggish response as the number of human cases continues to rise
Supply became contaminated as it passed through giant network of lead pipes that distributed water around city, scientists believe
As the cold season dribbles relentlessly onward, its worth considering who is or is not to blame for your misery
Last year a scientist said he'd found a new form of botulinum toxin, and was keeping details secret to keep the recipe from terrorists. But other science and public health labs were shut out, too.
Flu cases across the US can be accurately estimated using Wikipedia searches, and fluey tweets from Twitter users also give the game away
Workers who have a creative outlet outside the office are more likely to be creative problem solvers on the job, a study suggests. Oh, and they have more fun.
Scientists to grow a crop of camelina plants genetically modified to produce fish oils that could be used in health supplements Continue reading...
Kent Kiehl has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years. More recently he's acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. He talked with WIRED about what's different in the brains of psychopaths and why he views psychopathy as a preventable mental disorder.