Cognitive assessment is an objective assessment of an individual’s cognitive functions (in other words, their ability to remember things, solve problems, and to think clearly) conducted by an examiner using standardized testing methods. It specifically examines different aspects of cognition such as intelligence, memory, language function, problem solving, concentration and attention, visual/spatial perception, motor abilities, emotional characteristics and behaviour.
Cognitive assessment may consist of a brief, screening assessment using a screening tool such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA). These tools generate test scores which are compared to those of the general population to determine whether one’s performance falls below what is expected for the individual’s age and educational background. However, brief screening tests can miss subtle cognitive abnormalities, especially in people with a high level of cognitive ability prior to the onset of symptoms.
A more detailed cognitive assessment is called a neuropsychological evaluation. This is performed by a neuropsychologist, who is an expert trained in this field. It generally consists of an interview in which the neuropsychologist aims to establish the baseline level of cognitive ability prior to the development of symptoms, as well as delineate the individual’s cognitive symptoms. This is followed by structured testing which includes answering questions and completing tasks on paper or on a computer. Such testing is quite in depth and can take several hours or even several sessions. The neuropsychologist then draws together all the information gathered into a comprehensive report which analyses the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, assesses whether the performance falls within the normal range expected, indicates possible diagnoses consistent with the findings, and makes recommendations on treatment and follow-up. Remember offers detailed neuropsychological assessments.
Remember Advanced Memory Clinic is a multidisciplinary multidisciplinary specialist medical service which provides expert assessment, treatment, education and support for individuals with cognitive complaints and their carers. The specialist team usually comprises a cognitive neurologist, neuropsychologist, psychologist, neurosurgeon, dietician, exercise physiologist, rehabilitation specialist and psychiatrist.