Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 951–969 | Cite as

Feeling happy enhances early spatial encoding of peripheral information automatically: electrophysiological time-course and neural sources

  • Naomi Vanlessen
  • Valentina Rossi
  • Rudi De Raedt
  • Gilles Pourtois


Previous research has shown that positive mood may broaden attention, although it remains unclear whether this effect has a perceptual or a postperceptual locus. In this study, we addressed this question using high-density event-related potential methods. We randomly assigned participants to a positive or a neutral mood condition. Then they performed a demanding oddball task at fixation (primary task ensuring fixation) and a localization task of peripheral stimuli shown at three positions in the upper visual field (secondary task) concurrently. While positive mood did not influence behavioral performance for the primary task, it did facilitate stimulus localization on the secondary task. At the electrophysiological level, we found that the amplitude of the C1 component (reflecting an early retinotopic encoding of the stimulus in V1) was enhanced in the positive, as compared with the neutral, mood group. Importantly, this effect appeared to be largely automatic, because it occurred regardless of the task relevance of the peripheral stimulus and prior to top-down gain control effects seen at the level of the subsequent P1 component. This early effect was also observed irrespective of a change of the target-related P300 component (primary task) by positive mood. These results suggest that positive mood can automatically boost the spatial encoding of peripheral stimuli early on following stimulus onset. This effect can eventually underlie the broadening of spatial attention, which has been associated with this specific mood state.


Positive emotion Attention ERP C1 V1 P300 



This work is supported by a Concerted Research Action Grant from Ghent University awarded to R.D.R. and G.P. (#BOF10/GOA/014). G.P. is funded by the European Research Council (Starting Grant #200758) and Ghent University (BOF Grant #05Z01708). V.R. is funded by a BOF grant from Ghent University (#BOF13/PDO/095). The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Vanlessen
    • 1
  • Valentina Rossi
    • 1
  • Rudi De Raedt
    • 1
  • Gilles Pourtois
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Experimental Clinical & Health PsychologyGhent UniversityGentBelgium

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