Interactions between mood and cognition have drawn much attention in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. Recent neuroimaging studies have examined a neural basis of the mood-cognition interaction that which emphasize the role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Although these studies have shown that natural mood variations among participants are correlated with PFC activity during cognitive tasks, they did not control for personality differences. Our aim in this study was to clarify the relationship between natural mood and PFC activity by partialling out the effects of personality. Forty healthy adults completed self-report questionnaires assessing natural mood (the Profile of Mood States) and personality (the NEO Five-Factor Inventory and the Behavioral Inhibition/Activation Systems scales). They performed verbal and spatial working memory (WM) tasks while their PFC activity was measured using optical topography, a non-invasive, low-constraint neuroimaging tool. Correlation analysis showed that the level of negative mood was inversely associated with PFC activity during the verbal WM task, which replicated our previous findings. Furthermore, the negative correlation between negative mood and PFC activity remained significant after controlling for participants' personality traits, suggesting that natural mood is an independent contributing factor of PFC activity during verbal WM tasks.
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