Mood has a substantial impact on cognitive functions. Although studies have shown that the interaction between mood and cognition is mediated by the prefrontal cortex (PFC), little is known about how naturalistic mood in everyday life is associated with PFC activity during cognitive tasks. We investigated whether inter-individual variation in perceived mood under current life situations (recent week) is related to PFC activity during working memory (WM) tasks in healthy adults. Levels of positive and negative moods were quantified with the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. PFC activities during verbal and spatial WM tasks were measured by optical topography (OT), a non-invasive low-constraint neuroimaging tool, to minimize experimental intervention in participants' moods. Group-average analysis showed significant activations in the bilateral dorsolateral PFC in both WM tasks. Correlation analysis revealed that the participants reporting higher levels of negative moods showed lower levels of PFC activity during the verbal WM task but not during the spatial WM task. This relationship was significant even after controlling for possible confounding factors such as age, gender, and task performance. Our results suggest that verbal WM is linked with naturalistic negative mood and that the PFC is involved in the mood-cognition interaction in daily circumstances.
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