What is the role of neuropsychological testing in the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)?

Updated: Apr 22, 2019
  • Author: Sonal Mehta, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Neuropsychological testing is required in instances of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to demonstrate that the patient is below some cutoff point on standardized memory tests (as well as other cognitive tests). However, the exact cutoff point (be it 1.0, 1.5, or 2 standard deviations below the mean) and the particular neuropsychological tests to be used are not stipulated.

Because few MCI patients have undergone baseline testing on these measures before the onset of the impairment, the clinician will have to determine whether a particular score represents a significant change from a patient’s presumed baseline. Such determinations are inexact, and serial testing eventually will be needed to establish whether the patient’s cognitive function is improving, staying stable, or progressing to full-blown clinical dementia. A useful aspect of this testing is the ability of the neuropsychologist to establish a profile for the patient based on their gender, age, and education, and to then evaluate if their level of function is adequate for that profile.


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