Cognitive performance on the mini-mental state examination and the montreal cognitive assessment across the healthy adult lifespan

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2013 Mar;26(1):1-5. doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e31828b7d26.


Objective: We sought to compare age-related performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) across the adult lifespan in an asymptomatic, presumably normal, sample.

Background: The MMSE is the most commonly used brief cognitive screening test; however, the MoCA may be better at detecting early cognitive dysfunction.

Methods: We gave the MMSE and MoCA to 254 community-dwelling participants ranging in age from 20 to 89, stratified by decade, and we compared their scores using the Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Results: For the total sample, the MMSE and MoCA differed significantly in total scores as well as in visuospatial, language, and memory domains (for all of these scores, P<0.001). Mean MMSE scores declined only modestly across the decades; mean MoCA scores declined more dramatically. There were no consistent domain differences between the MMSE and MoCA during the third and fourth decades; however, significant differences in memory (P<0.05) and language (P<0.001) emerged in the fifth through ninth decades.

Conclusions: We conclude that the MoCA may be a better detector of age-related decrements in cognitive performance than the MMSE, as shown in this community-dwelling adult population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests