Cognitive tests allow you to test memory, logic, concentration and many other higher functions of the brain, and in some cases help to suspect serious disorders in the brain. How reliable are they? told about this neuropsychologist, head of the Scientific and Practical Center “DOM”, Ph.D. Svetlana Shishkova:
“Cognitive tests are tasks that allow you to quickly assess a person’s cognitive abilities — the highest brain functions responsible for memory, reaction, attentiveness, learning ability, etc. However, it is no coincidence that such tests are sometimes called cognitive games. It is necessary to approach the decoding of the result in a complex manner. Often, in harsh testing conditions, people get lost (and even get scared at a doctor’s appointment) and give incorrect answers even to the simplest tasks. And, on the contrary, those who pass these tests “playfully” cannot even cope with simple tasks in life.
As with all tests, practice is important. Most people show the worst result at the first test. A person who takes cognitive tests regularly, every time shows the best result.
There are many tasks within the framework of cognitive tests.
For example, a person may be asked to introduce themselves, their location, and today’s date.
The simplest test to test learning is to recall items that a person was shown for a short time.
Attention concentration can be analyzed by asking the person to write five-letter words forward, then backwards. And logic – by continuing a series of sequences, for example, geometric shapes or symbols.
A person’s short-term memory is tested by asking him to describe the events of this morning.
Abstract thinking is tested by the task of finding a connection between objects (for example, a fly, a mosquito, a grasshopper and an ant).
“You can test your cognitive abilities on your own, for example, with the help of mental counting (today it is practically not used in life), – says Deputy Director for Research of the Scientific Center of Neurology, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Marine Tanashyan. – One of the most revealing tests for detecting cognitive disorders is the task of drawing a clock face and “putting” on it a “difficult” time (for example, 14:20 or 16:45). This test allows you to identify a large number of problems – with spatial perception, with the construction of logical structures, with counting, etc.
There are special methods for diagnosing and serious disorders – in particular, Alzheimer’s disease, the essence of which is a provocation of the brain. They allow you to understand how correctly the brain responds to a particular task, and then, using different scales, determine the degree of cognitive dysfunction. However, remember: only a doctor can make a diagnosis! In addition, for a more accurate diagnosis, studies of the substance of the brain (magnetic resonance imaging) are usually carried out in order to exclude other pathology of the brain.
By the way, the Mini-Cog test – one of the tools for detecting dementia – consists of three tasks:
1) remember and repeat the three named items;
2) draw a clock (large round dial) with arrows showing a specific time (for example, 8:20) – the position of numbers and hands is estimated;
3) remember the three words that were named in the first task.
An error in at least one of the tasks (a forgotten word or the wrong position of numbers, arrows) indicates the likelihood of dementia. The sensitivity of the Mini-Cog test in detecting dementia is 80-95%, the specificity is 90-93%.
The Mini-Cog test is not used to diagnose mild cognitive impairment, a potentially reversible predementia condition. This requires a more thorough examination.