Cognitive and neuropsychological tests measure memory, language skills, math skills, visual and spatial skills, and other abilities related to mental functioning to help diagnose a patient’s condition accurately. For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease often show changes in so-called executive functions (such as problem-solving), memory, and the ability to perform once-automatic tasks.
Detailed neuropsychological testing is time-consuming and requires special training, and it usually occurs during a separate appointment with a neuropsychologist. However, during a regular neurology doctor visit, tests such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) provide a quick way to assess cognitive skills in people with suspected deficits.
These tests examine orientation, memory, and attention, as well as the ability to name objects, follow verbal and written commands, and copy a complex shape. Doctors also use a variety of other tests and rating scales to identify specific types of cognitive problems and abilities.