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Montreal Cognitive Assessment: Validation Study for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease

Freitas, Sandra PhD*; Simões, Mário Rodrigues PhD*; Alves, Lara PhD*; Santana, Isabel PhD, MD†,‡

Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: January-March 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 37–43
doi: 10.1097/WAD.0b013e3182420bfe
Original Articles

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was recently proposed as a cognitive screening test for milder forms of cognitive impairment, having surpassed the well-known limitations of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). This study aims to validate the MoCA for screening Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD) through an analysis of diagnostic accuracy and the proposal of cut-offs. Patients were classified into 2 clinical groups according to standard criteria: MCI (n=90) and AD (n=90). The 2 control groups (C-MCI: n=90; C-AD: n=90) consisted of cognitively healthy community dwellers selected to match patients in sex, age, and education. The MoCA showed consistently superior psychometric properties compared with the MMSE, and higher diagnostic accuracy to discriminate between MCI (area under the curve=0.856; 95% confidence interval, 0.796-0.904) and AD patients (area under the curve=0.980; 95% confidence interval, 0.947-0.995). At an optimal cut-off of below 22 for MCI and below 17 for AD, the MoCA achieved significantly superior values in comparison with MMSE for sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and classification accuracy. Furthermore, the MoCA revealed higher sensitivity to cognitive decline in longitudinal monitoring. This study provides robust evidence that the MoCA is a better cognitive tool than the widely used MMSE for the screening and monitoring of MCI and AD in clinical settings.

*Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra

Neurology Department of the Coimbra University Hospital, Coimbra, Portugal

Supported by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia [Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology] through of a PhD fellowship (SFRH/BD/38019/2007) and PIC/IC/83206/2007.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sandra Freitas, PhD, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Coimbra, Rua do Colégio Novo, Apartado 6153, 3001-802 Coimbra, Portugal (e-mail:

Received September 2, 2011

Accepted November 12, 2011

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.