The Montreal Cognitive Assessment

In 1996, Dr. Ziad Nasreddine had only been working at the Neuro Rive-Sud Clinic in Montreal for two weeks when he realized he wouldn’t get any work done unless he streamlined the 90-minute cognitive assessments for dementia. Since the mid-1970s, the Mini-Mental State Examination has been used for cognitive screening, but it was not sensitive enough to evaluate signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Between 1996 and 2005 Nasreddine and a team of researchers developed a tool that would provide an in-depth diagnosis for early signs of dementia. The paper-and-pen assessment, known as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) only takes 10 minutes and is based on 11 sub-tests such as attention and concentration, executive functions, memory, language, and visuoconstructional skills.  It determines mental processes of different individuals while considering their level of education. The MoCA is free and is translated into at least 43 languages and dialects, and is used by clinicians in 100 countries to screen patients. A more recent electronic version of the MoCA , which incorporates automatic scoring of the test, processing speed and the calculation of a new memory index score (MIS), can help clinicians and researchers determine which MCI subjects are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

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