Positive affect systematically influences performance on many cognitive tasks. A new
neuropsychological theory is proposed that accounts for many of these effects by assuming
that positive affect is associated with increased brain dopamine levels. The theory
predicts or accounts for influences of positive affect on olfaction, the consolidation
of long-term (i.e., episodic) memories, working memory, and creative problem solving.
For example, the theory assumes that creative problem solving is improved, in part,
because increased dopamine release in the anterior cingulate improves cognitive flexibility
and facilitates the selection of cognitive perspective.