Who laughs, sees more than a grumpy contemporary.
Reading aloud If you see the world through the proverbial pink glasses, your surroundings actually perceive differently: a good mood widens the field of vision and ensures that the brain registers more details of the background, Canadian researchers have proven. On the other hand, if the mood sinks into the cellar, the field of vision shrinks and a kind of tunnel vision arises. The brain then concentrates almost exclusively on what is at the center of attention and barely reacts to the background. The current emotional state not only influences how the brain processes what has been seen, but also interferes much more deeply with the perception process, write Taylor Schmitz and his colleagues. For their study, the researchers showed 19 volunteers a series of photos to arouse their emotions. pleasant, unpleasant and, for control, neutral. Afterwards the subjects were given pictures in the center of which a face and in the background a building could be seen. Her job was to focus on the face and indicate what sex it had. Meanwhile, scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging to record their brain activity. They focused mainly on two areas: the so-called Fusiform Face Area (FFA), a brain area that is responsible for the recognition of faces, and an area called Parahippocampal Place Area (PPA), the little on faces and heavily on backgrounds and spatial arrangements responds.

The strategy worked well: Subjects who had seen pictures of cute puppy dogs or toddlers and were therefore in a good mood, the PPA shone more brightly than participants with a worse mood. The more they felt emotionally touched by the images, the more pronounced the difference was. The FFA, however, was equally active in both groups. So, not a shift in attention, but a real change in perception, researchers interpret this result: a positive mood broadens the field of view and makes one more receptive to more incidental background details, while a negative mood causes the focused area to shrink and more Information hides.

Previous studies have shown similar effects, explain the scientists. For example, witnesses to a crime often perceive the events themselves and do not register details of their surroundings. So far, however, researchers had assumed that behind it is a control mechanism through the higher brain functions, which filters the information targeted and only certain can come into consciousness. However, the new results now show that the selection takes place much earlier and that the mood directly interferes with the first stages of the perception process.

Taylor Schmitz (University of Toronto) et al .: Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 29, p. 7199 ddp / science.de? Ilka Lehnen-Beyel advertisement

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