Mood as Representation of Momentum

Eran Eldar*, Robb B. Rutledge, Raymond J. Dolan, Yael Niv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Experiences affect mood, which in turn affects subsequent experiences. Recent studies suggest two specific principles. First, mood depends on how recent reward outcomes differ from expectations. Second, mood biases the way we perceive outcomes (e.g., rewards), and this bias affects learning about those outcomes. We propose that this two-way interaction serves to mitigate inefficiencies in the application of reinforcement learning to real-world problems. Specifically, we propose that mood represents the overall momentum of recent outcomes, and its biasing influence on the perception of outcomes 'corrects' learning to account for environmental dependencies. We describe potential dysfunctions of this adaptive mechanism that might contribute to the symptoms of mood disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.


  • Decision making
  • Mood
  • Reinforcement learning


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