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Cognitive Performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Across the Healthy Adult Lifespan

Gluhm, Shea BA*; Goldstein, Jody BS*; Loc, Kiet MD; Colt, Alexandra BA*,‡; Liew, Charles Van MA*,§; Corey-Bloom, Jody MD, PhD*

Cognitive & Behavioral Neurology: March 2013 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 1–5
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e31828b7d26
Original Studies

Objective: We sought to compare age-related performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) across the adult lifespan in an asymptomatic, presumably normal, sample.

Background: The MMSE is the most commonly used brief cognitive screening test; however, the MoCA may be better at detecting early cognitive dysfunction.

Methods: We gave the MMSE and MoCA to 254 community-dwelling participants ranging in age from 20 to 89, stratified by decade, and we compared their scores using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Results: For the total sample, the MMSE and MoCA differed significantly in total scores as well as in visuospatial, language, and memory domains (for all of these scores, P<0.001). Mean MMSE scores declined only modestly across the decades; mean MoCA scores declined more dramatically. There were no consistent domain differences between the MMSE and MoCA during the third and fourth decades; however, significant differences in memory (P<0.05) and language (P<0.001) emerged in the fifth through ninth decades.

Conclusions: We conclude that the MoCA may be a better detector of age-related decrements in cognitive performance than the MMSE, as shown in this community-dwelling adult population.

*Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA

Department of Neurology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

§Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Supported by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and the UCSD Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (National Institutes of Health P50 AG005131).

Authors’ Contributions: S.G.: Organization and execution of research project; acquisition of participants and data; analysis and interpretation of data; writing of first draft of the manuscript. J.G.: Conception, organization, and execution of research project; review and critique of statistical analysis; review and critique of manuscript. K.L.: Organization and execution of research project; acquisition of participants and data; review and critique of statistical analysis; review and critique of manuscript. A.C.: Organization of research project; writing of first draft of the manuscript. C.V.L.: Organization of research project; acquisition of participants and data; writing of first draft of the manuscript. J.C.-B.: Conception, organization, and design of research project; review and critique of statistical analysis; review and critique of manuscript.

J.C.-B. has received personal compensation from Isis Pharmaceuticals for consulting services and has been the principal investigator on a number of clinical trials for dementia supported by Elan, Teva, Siena, Prana, Huntington Study Group, and Cure HD Initiative. The remaining authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Jody Corey-Bloom, MD, PhD, 8950 Villa La Jolla Drive, Suite C129, La Jolla, CA 92037 (e-mail: jcoreybloom@ucsd.edu).

Received May 9, 2012

Accepted September 10, 2012

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.