Barbary macaques at Trentham Monkey Forest, UK

Rhesus monkeys at Cayo Santiago Island, Puerto Rico

A ring-tailed lemur at the Duke Lemur Center, NC

A chimpanzee at Tchimpounga Sanctuary, Congo Republic

Our  group examines the evolutionary origins of the human mind. How do our primate relatives think about the world, are their psychological abilities similar to or different from our own, and why do species differ in their cognitive abilities? We aim to uncover the roots of humans’ unique cognitive phenotype, as well understand what evolutionary processes shape the emergence of different cognitive skills.

Our research uses a comparative approach drawing on evolutionary theory, cognitive science, and developmental psychology to understand the origins of complex, flexible behavior. We are especially focused on capacities supporting decision-making, executive control, and social cognition. To do this work, we study several semi-free-ranging ape, monkey, and lemur populations.

The Cognitive Evolution Group is directed by Dr. Alexandra Rosati. We are based in University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology, and are affiliated with the Department of Anthropology.

Our team is part of a collaborative project aiming to make primate knowledge accessible to students, scientists and the public. Check out Primate Learning in Action to learn more!

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