Neurocognitive testing is used to find out about a person's thinking abilities, and to determine whether these problems are improving or getting worse.
Mental status exam; Mental status tests
How the test is performed
A nurse, physician, physician assistant, or mental health worker will ask a number of questions. The test can be performed in the home, in an office, nursing home, or hospital. Occasionally, a psychologist with special training will do more extensive tests.
Most of the time, the provider will use neurocognitive tests that are also used by many other providers, which gives a score at the end. The most common test used is called the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) or Folstein test.
The following areas may be tested:
The health care provider will check the person's physical appearance, including:
- General level of comfort
The health care provider will ask questions that may include:
- The person's name, age, and job
- The place where the person lives, type of building, city, and state, or the hospital or facility they are currently in
- The time, date, and season
Attention span may be tested earlier, because this fundamental skill can influence the rest of the tests.
The provider will want to test:
- The person's ability to complete a thought
- The person's ability to think and problem solve
- Whether the person is easily distracted
A person may be asked to do the following:
- Start at a certain number, and then begin to subtract backwards by 7s.
- Spell a word such as "WORLD" forward, and then backward.
- Repeat up to 7 numbers foward, and up to 5 numbers in reverse order.
Review Date: 03/09/2010
Reviewed By: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.