The newly famous cognitive test, explained.
On Tuesday, Dr. Ronny Jackson, Donald Trump’s physician, told the world that the president “has absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever.”
He came to this conclusion, he said, after meeting regularly with Trump and from the president’s perfect score of 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment conducted during his physical exam on Friday.
The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCa, is a tool designed to spot the symptoms of dementia that come with a neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. According to Jackson, Trump requested a cognitive test during his annual physical, and is the first president to have undergone one.
To the able-minded, some of the questions might look overly simple or silly. It asks, for instance, for the patient to identify the names of a few animals, and correctly state their date and location. It has basic tasks like counting backwards by seven, and drawing a clock that reads 10 past 11. These are some of the basic mental processes that tragically slip away from people with dementia. (See the whole test here).
It’s a pretty useful tool to quickly assess dementia symptoms, or to assess cognitive functioning after a stroke. A 2007 study in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found the Montreal Cognitive Assessment correctly detected 94 percent of patients with mild cognitive impairment, performing better than other tests of cognitive wherewithal. It’s been shown to be helpful in identifying symptoms in Parkinson’s patients, and in those who have suffered a stroke.