A study in China led by Zhen Hong, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Shanghai, China, and published in the open access journal Biomed Central has identified that, for patients with mild cognitive impairment, there was not a singular internationally acknowledged screening test, unlike the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) for dementia. The authors aimed to develop a test that could be applicable for mild cognitive impairment detection with minimal administration time and without the need for complex algorithms or computer programmes.
It was outlined in the study that many of the current screening tests for mild cognitive impairment are dependent on many variables and have different item coverage, administration rates and diagnostic accuracy. Therefore, the authors developed memory and executive screening (MES) which was independent from writing to exclude education as a limiting factor among patients.
Three hundred and eleven patients were diagnosed as amnestic mild cognitive impairment according to the Peterson criteria and were further divided into subgroups according to the impaired cognitive domains. Of the 796 patients enrolled 197 were cognitively normal controls, 116 had amnestic mild cognitive impairment-single domain (aMCI-sd), 195 had amnestic MCI-multiple domain (acMCI-md) and 228 patients had mild Alzheimer’s disease. Each patient was evaluated with comprehensive neuropsychological tests and received, excluding the controls, a CT or MRI scan.
When comparing the MES scores the authors found that in the aMCI-sd group memory function declined with a slight decrease in executive function. The aMCI-md group executive function and memory function declined more than that of the aMCI-sd group. It was concluded by Hong et al that: “The pattern of cognitive deficits of the aMCI-md group was similar to that of mild Alzheimer’s disease.”
According to the data analysis of MES, mild cognitive impairment was show to be significantly and negatively related with age (p<0.05). The test completion time averaged seven minutes.
“The results showed that the MES may be a suitable screening method for MCI and mild dementia,” Hong et al said. “The MES may be a highly sensitive and specific cognitive screening tool that is valid, easy to administer, and minimally time consuming. It can be applied as a screening tool for large epidemiological surveys.”