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Cognitive Testing

Cognition refers to the way we perceive, think about and act upon the information we take in. Central to human evolution has been the expansion of our brain and a corresponding expansion of our cognitive abilities.

At Yerkes, researchers use cognitive testing to study humans and nonhuman primates. Human patients take tests that measure their abilities to pay attention, learn and remember as well as assess their problem-solving skills. This helps researchers studying aging, memory, mild cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, learn about the types of deficits associated with different disease entities, including subtle changes that may occur early in the disease process.

In nonhuman primates, researchers use cognitive testing to better understand how human cognitive capacities may have evolved. Recent areas of study at the Living Links Center include: the role of imitation in the formation and maintenance of culture, altruistic and contagious behaviors as measures of empathy, the sensitivity of individuals to fairness and unequal treatment, how individuals perceive themselves and others, the use of gestures to communicate, and how cooperation, sharing and reciprocity help maintain social bonds.