Noncognitive Functions and Aging in the

Although cognitive decline is the most common and frequently studied hallmark of aging and dementia, a number of noncognitive impairments are observed in elderly and demented subjects. The term noncognitive will refer to a range of diverse behaviors that do not explicitly involve testing for learning and memory but could be related to cognitive status. Such behaviors include general activity, social interaction, and psychotic and aggressive behaviors. A similar distinction is made in the case of humans (Folstein and Blysma, 1999). Using the dog as a model system to study aging, we have reported several noncognitive behavioral changes, which correlate with changes in cognitive functioning. The specific noncogni-tive behaviors examined include locomotor activity, activity rhythms, social interactions, and exploratory behavior.

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