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Sarah Pope

Grad Student    

Master of Science in Neuroscience 2015 Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia
Bachelor of Science in Biology 2011 Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia


Cognitive Neuroscience
Evolutionary Psychology


Sarah Michelle Pope’s research explores how familiar solution strategies block better ones from being adopted. Sarah has worked with chimpanzees for seven years, as well as several other nonhuman primate species including baboons and bonobos. For her dissertation research, Sarah created a touchscreen task, which measures subjects’ abilities to replace a familiar solution strategy with a more creative one. Sarah has used this task, called the LS-DS task, to explore variation in cognitive flexibility between baboons, chimpanzees, and humans. Furthermore, after receiving funding from the National Geographic Society, Sarah recently investigated cross-cultural differences in problem-solving approach between Westerners and the semi-nomadic Himba of northern Namibia. This research has led her to question how formal education might suppress problem solving creativity in humans, a topic she hopes to further explore.

Sarah is also interested in the association between social cognition and imitation in humans and nonhuman primates. She recently published a study which sought to understand the neural underpinnings of imitation in chimpanzees by teaching them to play a ‘Do As I Do’ imitation game and then identifying changes in white matter connectivity between Pre- and Post- training brain images, compared to controls.


Pope, S. M., Fagot, J., Meguerditchian, A., Washburn, D. A. & Hopkins, W. D. Enhanced cognitive flexibility in the semi-nomadic Himba. Submitted for publication (October, 2017)

Pope, S. M., Meguerditchian, A., Fagot, J. & Hopkins, W. D.  The evolution of cognitive flexibility in primates: Chimpanzees’ intermediate susceptibility to cognitive set. In Preparation –2017

Pope, S. M., Washburn, D. A. & Hopkins, W. D. Breaking cognitive set: seeing an alternative strategy is not the same as looking for one. In Preparation –2017

Pope, S. M., Taglialatela, J.P., Hopkins, W. D. Changes in mirror region connectivity following Do-As-I-Do training in chimpanzees. In press, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience – 2017

Hopkins, W. D., Coulon, O., Meguerditchian, A., Autrey, M., Davidek, K., Mahovetz, L., Pope, S.M., Mareno, M.C., & Schapiro, S. J. (2017). Genetic Factors and Oro-Facial Motor Learning Selectively Influence Variability in Central Sulcus Morphology in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Neuroscience, 2641-16.

Hopkins, W.D., Meguerditchian, A., Coulon, O., Misiura, M., Pope, S.M., Mareno, M.C., Schapiro, S.J. (2016) Motor skill for tool-use is associated with asymmetries in Broca’s Area and the Motor Hand Area of the Precentral Gyrus in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).  Behavioural brain research, 318, 71-81.

Hopkins, W. D., McIntyre, J. M., Misiura, M, Pope, S. M., Reamer, L. A., Mareno, M. C., & Schapiro, S. J. Heritability of Asymmetries in the Homologs to Broca’s and Wernicke’s Areas in Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) – In Revision.

Pope, S. M., Russell, J. L., & Hopkins, W. D. (2015). The association between imitation recognition and socio-communicative competencies in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Frontiers in psychology, 6.

Pope, S. M., Meguerditchian, A., Hopkins, W. D., & Fagot, J. (2015). Baboons (Papio papio), but not humans, break cognitive set in a visuomotor task. Animal cognition, 1-8.

Taglialatela, J.P., Russell, J., Pope, S.M., Morton, T., Bogart, S., Reamer, L.A., Schapiro, S.J., Hopkins, W.D.  (2015).  Multimodal Communication in Chimpanzees.  American Journal of Primatology, 77(11).

Hopkins, W.D., Misiura, M., Pope, S.M., Latash, E.M.  (2015). Behavioral and brain asymmetries in primates: A preliminary evaluation of two evolutionary hypotheses.  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1359 (1).