Cheerful outlook helps you see a larger vision

June 4th, 2009 - 3:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, June 4 (IANS) Beware of bad moods as they can worsen the way you perceive the world, says a new study.
“Specifically our study shows that when in a positive mood, our visual cortex takes in more information, while a negative mood results in tunnel vision, said Adam Anderson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto (U-T) who led the study.

Anderson’s team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how our brain processes sensory information when in good, bad and neutral moods.

Researchers first showed subjects a series of images designed to generate a good, bad or neutral mood. Subjects were then shown a composite image, featuring a face in the centre, surrounded by “place” images, such as a house.

To focus their attention on the central image, subjects were asked to identify the gender of the person’s face. When in a bad mood, the subjects did not process the images of places in the surrounding background.

However, when viewing the same images in a good mood, they actually took in more information. Subjects saw the central image of the face as well as the surrounding pictures of the houses.

“Under positive moods, people may process a greater number of objects in their environment, which sounds like a good thing, but it also can result in distraction,” said Taylor Schmitz, study co-author.

“Good moods enhance the literal size of the window through which we see the world. The upside of this is that we can see things from a more global, or integrative perspective,” Schmitz added.

“The downside is that this can lead to distraction on critical tasks that require narrow focus, such as operating dangerous machinery or airport screening of passenger baggage,” he said.

Conversely “bad moods may keep us more narrowly focussed, preventing us from integrating information outside of our direct attentional focus,” Schmitz said.

The research appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.

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