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What Are Cognitive Tests?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 23, 2024
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Cognitive tests can be performed on both humans and animals. These tests are conducted in order to assess cognitive abilities. While the types of tests administered to humans and animals differ, the point of all cognitive tests is to further study the psychology and philosophy of the mind. Many of these tests used today are derived from the work of Sir Francis Galton.

Sir Francis Galton was an anthropologist and inventor amongst many other things. His work was aimed at determining the intelligence of his patients. In fact, people often paid Galton to have him measure their intellect via "mental tests" -- something that was held in great esteem during the late nineteenth century.

In order to measure one's intelligence, Galton measured the strength of a person's grip, along with their height and weight. While Galton's findings were not accurate, they were, indeed, advanced for his time. Later, many psychologists, and scientists, investigated Galton's work extensively. These researchers found that while his experiments were not accurate, his insight into the human mind was immensely important.

Today, there are many different types of cognitive tests that are in frequent use. Amongst many others, common intelligence tests include the Miller Analogies test, the Kohl Block test, and the Stanford-Binet test. Cognitive development tests can include the multiple choice test and the Knox Block test amongst others.

In fact, there are hundreds of cognitive tests that test everything from memory to self assessment. Typically, these tests are performed by psychologists and psychiatrists that wish to determine a patient's mental abilities. Modern cognitive tests are presently being used to predict medical ailments that may affect a person's brain at a later date.

It is believed that some cognitive tests can determine whether or not a person will confront multiple sclerosis later in life. In addition, these tests can help medical doctors determine whether or not a person is battling Alzheimer's disease. In short, even though testing one's cognition originated as a way to determine intelligence, these tests can now detect certain illnesses.

Clearly, cognitive testing has come a long way from its beginnings. While no longer referred to as "mental tests," these tests are still vastly important. As more and more tests are developed, researchers are starting to find ways to take a deeper look into the psychology of the brain. While seemingly simple, cognitive tests reveal a lot more than Sir Francis Galton ever gave them credit for.

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Discussion Comments
By Tufenkian925 — On Jan 24, 2011

The media is affecting the ways we think in ways that we don't realize. We can change topics so suddenly due to the fast-paced and random information which assails us on a daily basis. Learning to rein in the thought processes is a very helpful tool for increasing cognitive abilities.

By Armas1313 — On Jan 23, 2011

My opinion is that people become smarter if they really want to. Usually the person who wins a given competition is the one who tries the hardest. Motivation is a key determinant in the choice to pursue cognitive excellence.

By GigaGold — On Jan 21, 2011

Recognizing our own inherent cognitive biases is also important in learning to think clearly and consistently. People have so many biases which can cloud their judgment or be misused in a given context. Cognitive biases are not always a bad thing, but should be recognized as a strong part of our thinking in order to be properly addressed.

By JavaGhoul — On Jan 19, 2011

The IQ test was established in order to measure different areas of intelligence in people. It is a myth, however, to think that you cannot increase your IQ. Intelligence is often a result of mental diligence. Like muscles, the mind can increase in potential through hard work and discipline. People who seem incredibly sharp are often smart, not merely because of some predisposition of intelligence, but because they worked hard to become that way.

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