Neurocognitive Testing

Dr. Johnson performing neurocognitive testing.

What is Neurocognitive Testing?

Many people are afraid to take a cognitive test because they think they will “fail it.”  They’ve noted changes that they think are indicative of serious cognitive dysfunction that may be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.  This is unfortunate because they are no more likely to “fail it” than they are the tests of lung and arterial function.  It’s like thinking that because you get a little shorter of breath running up a flight of stairs now than when you were younger, you are going to get lung cancer or have a heart attack.

As early as your mid-twenties, certain aspects of your cognitive function begin to decline in a linear fashion.  You don’t notice the decline unless you tax the system, e.g., play a video game or do long division in your head.  If that decline is steeper than the average person, you are more likely to have significant neurologic disease decades earlier than someone whose decline is average, and now is the time to act.

We offer the following variety of Neurocognitive tests to best assess your overall cognitive wellbeing:

The CNS Vital Signs battery of neuropsychological tests assesses the main areas of cognitive function, by taxing them more than your daily activities.  It is used to screen for significant neurologic impairment from dementia, ADHD, or medications and is a screening test that everyone should take periodically. However, in order to know if there is a significant impairment, the results of the test must be age-adjusted. While most domains of cognitive function are affected by normal brain aging, two areas are particularly sensitive to age and start early in adulthood.

The Stroop Test measures how quickly and accurately you can apply a rule to a stimulus and then inhibit the application of that rule (first act when the word spells the color of its font/then reverse the rule).

The Symbol Digit Coding Test measures how many paired sets of symbols and digits you can process on a computer screen with your eyes and then press the corresponding key on the keyboard. Studies have shown that the decrease in performance on tests like these is correlated with the loss of dopamine activity in the frontal lobes of the brain.

The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a brief 30-point questionnaire test that is used to screen for cognitive impairment. It is commonly used in medicine to screen for dementia. It is also used to estimate the severity of cognitive impairment at a given point in time and to follow the course of cognitive changes in an individual over time, thus making it an effective way to document an individual's response to treatment.

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, also known as MoCA, is a cognitive screening test designed to detect mild cognitive dysfunction. The test assesses different cognitive domains, such as concentration, executive functioning, short-term memory, language, visuoconstructional skills, orientation, and more. The MoCA usually takes about 10 minutes to complete, depending on the patient's ability.

Functional status refers to the tasks a person can perform in daily life. These tasks are usually referred to as "Activities of Daily Living" or ADLs. The self-care tasks (eg, bathing, eating, etc) are especially important, because these are the basic ADLs (B-ADLs) considered essential for independent living. We usually ask whether the person requires the help from someone else to complete these basic tasks. They will also ask about the person’s ability to manage household affairs, such as using the telephone, stove, or washer. These are called instrumental ADLs (I-ADLs).

Clinic Main Page