The MoCA: well-suited screen for cognitive impairment in Parkinson disease

Neurology. 2010 Nov 9;75(19):1717-25. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181fc29c9.


Objective: To establish the diagnostic accuracy of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) when screening externally validated cognition in Parkinson disease (PD), by comparison with a PD-focused test (Scales for Outcomes in Parkinson disease-Cognition [SCOPA-COG]) and the standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (S-MMSE) as benchmarks.

Methods: A convenience sample of 114 patients with idiopathic PD and 47 healthy controls was examined in a movement disorders center. The 21 patients with dementia (PD-D) were diagnosed using Movement Disorders Society criteria, externally validated by detailed independent functional and neuropsychological tests. The 21 patients with mild cognitive impairment (PD-MCI) scored 1.5 SD or more below normative data in at least 2 measures in 1 of 4 cognitive domains. Other patients had normal cognition (PD-N).

Results: Primary outcomes using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses showed that all 3 mental status tests produced excellent discrimination of PD-D from patients without dementia (area under the curve [AUC], 87%-91%) and PD-MCI from PD-N patients (AUC, 78%-90%), but the MoCA was generally better suited across both assessments. The optimal MoCA screening cutoffs were <21/30 for PD-D (sensitivity 81%; specificity 95%; negative predictive value [NPV] 92%) and <26/30 for PD-MCI (sensitivity 90%; specificity 75%; NPV 95%). Further support that the MoCA is at least equivalent to the SCOPA-COG, and superior to the S-MMSE, came from the simultaneous classification of the 3 PD patient groups (volumes under a 3-dimensional ROC surface, chance = 17%: MoCA 79%, confidence interval [CI] 70%-89%; SCOPA-COG 74%, CI 62%-86%; MMSE-Sevens item 56%, CI 44%-68%; MMSE-World item 62%, CI 50%-73%).

Conclusions: The MoCA is a suitably accurate, brief test when screening all levels of cognition in PD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards
  • New Zealand
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales* / standards
  • ROC Curve