Cognitive Function Tests: What They Can Unveil About Our Cognitive Health

The brain is a powerful and complex organ. While it produces our every thought, memory, feeling, and experience, it can also work in unpredictable ways. 

After all, the brain comprises a staggering one hundred billion nerve cells making up nearly 60 trillion neural connections. This complexity can sometimes make it challenging to pinpoint why we feel or act as we do; however, there are cognitive function tests that can help gain insights.

Also referred to as cognitive screening tests or cognitive assessments, cognitive function tests can help paint a clearer picture of where your brain health currently stands and, more importantly, where to go from there. 

We encourage you to learn about these tests to gain more insight about yourself and guide your health journey.

What Are Cognitive Function Tests

A cognitive function test is a screening tool that explores your cognitive abilities. It aims to learn how your brain works and helps assess which areas of cognitive functioning are strong and which may need support. 

These assessments can diagnose the main symptoms presenting in cases of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other specific conditions. But for a conclusive diagnosis, other measures, such as imaging and medical tests, are needed as well. 

The Functions that Cognitive Tests Can Assess

Remember, there is no one cognitive function test. Rather, there are various types of tests, each one designed to measure one or several specific cognitive functions. These could include the following: 

  • Attention: Your level of alertness and ability to attend to targets and disregard noise
  • Information processing speed: How quickly you process information
  • Memory: The level at which you encode and recall information
  • Executive functions: Your ability to apply information, compare, and make sound judgments
  • Spatial skills: How you lean on visual cues and senses to make decisions


Examples of Cognitive Function Tests

Here are some examples of cognitive function tests that may be performed in a clinical setting: 

  • Verbal Memory: How well can you recognize, remember, and retrieve words?
    • Recall appointment times
    • Remember to take medications
  • Psychomotor Speed: Can you precisely use tools and perform mental and physical coordination?
    • Drive a car
    • Play a musical instrument
  • Processing Speed: How well do you process information?
    • React to possible risks
    • Respond to issues accurately  
  • Simple Visual Attention: How is your ability to track something quickly and accurately?
    • Self-regulation
    • Simple attention control
  • Motor Speed: Are you able to move how you intend to move?
    • Manual dexterity actions

Such tests could be included in the following test batteries: 

  • Neurotrax – A computerized test for cognitive assessment used in research and clinical settings.
  • CNS Vital Signs – A computerized batter for cognitive assessment used broadly in clinical settings.
  • CANTAB – Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, administered on a tablet.

Other short screening tests of cognitive functions include:

  • MOCA – Montreal Cognitive Assessment. A short paper and pencil test available so on Tablet.
  • MMSE – Mini Mental State Examination. A short paper and pencil test.
  • Mini-Cog: A short computerized cognitive screening test.


Why Take a Cognitive Function Test

A cognitive function test may be performed if there are signs and symptoms of cognitive decline or impairment. Someone may also want to gain more information about their cognitive health. 

Maybe you’ve noticed changes in yourself or your loved one; perhaps you have a family history of cognitive decline and want insight into your own brain health. These are valid reasons to seek a test. 

Think of these test results as insightful data. Cognitive function tests may help unveil areas you may want to improve. We want to emphasize that results from these assessments shouldn’t make you feel incapable or point out your shortcomings; they’re to help you learn more about your brain capabilities and encourage a discussion with your medical team. 


What Cognitive Function Tests Show

As noted earlier, cognitive function tests look for cognitive strengths and potential areas of decline. You can use cognitive test results to initiate a conversation with your doctor, who can help you plan the next steps. 

According to Dr. Gil Suzin, Head of the Neurocognitive Unit at Aviv Scientific:  “The goal is to paint an overall picture of the patient’s health to understand factors that may drive cognitive decline.”

Since each person is different, taking a deeper dive with a professional is essential. Just like you can’t Google your symptoms to diagnose yourself, you can’t take a cognitive test to diagnose any conditions. 

Your health specialist may order additional tests or look into your medical history to clarify your situation and determine any support you may need. 

What Cognitive Function Tests Do Not Show

Cognitive function tests do not show: 

  • Why you might have cognitive impairment 
  • What areas of the brain carry the impairment 
  • What condition may be causing cognitive impairment
  • Whether the impairment is hereditary or acquired

Only a physician or neuropsychologist can address these areas.


How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Cognitive Function Test

You don’t need to prepare for a cognitive test; studying isn’t necessary.

You can rest assured because cognitive function tests consist of simple questions and tasks. The assessment is designed to learn more about you and offers a meaningful workout to your brain. So, relax and go in as yourself. 

What to Expect During the Cognitive Test

The test will entail a series of questions and exercises. Cognitive function tests typically cover the following: 

  • Recall and memory: Being asked to recall objects, places, or people you were shown and/or being asked to describe an event
  • Analytical  thinking: Solving puzzles via rules and noting relationships between objects or figures
  • Attention: Using visual and auditory speed to concentrate and finish tasks


How Long Do the Tests Typically Take? 

It depends on the type of test you take, but a cognitive function test typically takes between 25 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete. 

Can Cognitive Impairment be Reversed

With the right protocols and medical team by your side, you can reverse some forms of cognitive impairment. Research illustrates that a variety of therapies, which may include hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), can help: 

  • Drive the body’s regenerative mechanisms.
  • Improve and restore cognitive brain functions.

One study specifically discovered the main improvements involve “attention, information processing speed, and executive functions, which normally decline with aging.”


Your Cognitive Health Matters: Stay Proactive with Aviv Clinics

Every decision we make each day impacts our cognitive well-being, and staying proactive is one of those decisions. If you want to be proactive, you can restore cognitive function with the Aviv Medical Program, which is founded on decades of research that enhances performance and brings relief to our clients. 

With our unique protocol and cognitive training, the Aviv Medical Program targets the main cognitive domains known to decline during aging, including:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Information processing speed
  • Executive functions (i.e., response inhibition, cognitive flexibility)
  • Fine motor speed & coordination

We assess your cognition at the beginning of the program and again at the end to accurately measure your improvements.

Start your journey with Aviv Clinics today!

What is aphasia? All about the neurological language disorder

No matter how old we are, we all just want to be heard and understood. For most of us, communicating is as simple as opening our mouths and saying what we mean. But for people with speech and language conditions like aphasia, communicating even simple ideas is a daily struggle.

More than two million Americans suffer from aphasia, including one-third of all stroke victims. Yet more than 80% of people have never heard of it. Aphasia can impair a person’s speech, understanding, and ability to express themselves. The condition is often misunderstood because of the lack of public awareness; ultimately, those who suffer from it face unfair stigmatization and isolation from society.

Fortunately, people who suffer from aphasia may find relief through various treatment options. Here’s what you need to know about aphasia and how to manage it.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder that impairs a person’s ability to communicate. It’s caused by damage occurring to one or more parts of the brain that process language. Some people with aphasia may have a hard time understanding the speech of others, as though everyone around them is speaking in riddles. Others may understand speech perfectly fine, but have difficulty linking more than a few words together. Some people may forget certain words or use them incorrectly, or they may be able to understand what a word means, but cannot repeat it.

Aphasia can also affect a person’s ability to read and write, which can make communicating even more frustrating for patients and caregivers alike.

It’s important to note that aphasia does NOT affect intelligence. Someone who suffers from aphasia is exactly the same person they were before the condition set in. They are still capable of coming up with complex thoughts and ideas; they simply struggle to express those ideas through language.

What causes Aphasia?

The most common cause of aphasia is stroke, especially in older adults. Strokes that affect the left side of the brain are more likely to result in aphasia because the parts of the brain that control language are primarily located on the left side. Aphasia also can be brought on by traumatic brain injuries, tumors, infections, or neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Types of aphasia

Experts typically divide aphasia into a few broad categories with different subtypes branching off the main groups. People may be affected in different ways, depending on which part of the brain was affected and the extent of the damage.

Fluent aphasia

Also known as Wernicke’s Aphasia, fluent aphasia is caused by damage to the brain’s temporal lobe. It impacts a person’s ability to understand spoken words and construct meaningful sentences. A person with Wernicke’s aphasia will usually speak in long, winding sentences that don’t make sense. They may use words in an incorrect context or even use nonsense words that have no meaning.

People with this type of aphasia don’t often realize that their sentences don’t make any sense, and they usually have a hard time understanding the speech of others.

Non-fluent aphasia

Non-fluent aphasia, or Broca’s aphasia, is caused by damage to the frontal lobe. This is the most common type of aphasia and is usually associated with strokes. Non-fluent aphasia doesn’t always impact a person’s ability to understand the speech of others, but it does impact a person’s ability to express themselves properly.

Someone with Broca’s aphasia will usually speak in short, fragmented sentences and omit
words like “is” and “the”.

It’s usually easy to understand what a person with non-fluent aphasia wants to say, but people who suffer from it often become frustrated by their inability to form a proper sentence.

Global aphasia

Global aphasia is the most severe form of aphasia and is caused by damage to multiple areas of the brain. People with global aphasia often exhibit symptoms of both Weirneke’s and Broca’s aphasia. They can understand little to no spoken language, speak very few words, and cannot read or write.

Global aphasia often appears immediately after suffering a stroke or brain trauma. Symptoms can improve rapidly in the first few months, depending on the severity of the damage.

Primary progressive aphasia

Instead of being caused by a traumatic incident like a stroke, primary progressive aphasia, or PPA is caused by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, which cause brain tissue to deteriorate.

A person with PPA will experience a progressive loss of their speech and language abilities as the condition advances. Early symptoms of PPA include difficulty finding the right word, mispronouncing words, difficulty understanding conversations, and problems with reading and writing.

There’s still a lot to learn about this particular sub-type of aphasia, and more research is needed to gain a better understanding of exactly how it progresses.

How do doctors diagnose aphasia?

After suffering a stroke or other brain trauma, your doctor will typically perform a series of imaging scans like an MRI or CT scan to determine what part of your brain was affected and how extensive the damage is. They may also perform a series of tests to assess your level of language capacity, which may include:

  • Naming common objects
  • Engaging in conversation
  • Repeating words and sentences
  • Reading and writing
  • Following basic instructions

If your doctor suspects aphasia, you’ll typically be referred to a speech-language pathologist for a more extensive assessment.

Is aphasia treatable?

There is currently no cure for aphasia, but it is possible for certain individuals to regain at least some of their speech and language capabilities, depending on the severity of the damage. Aphasia affects everyone differently, so every patient needs a customized therapy approach to suit their unique needs.

Speech therapy is currently one of the most effective treatment strategies for aphasia patients. In a typical therapy session, aphasia patients will work with a speech-language pathologist to increase their ability to speak and communicate. Aphasia patients may also learn how to communicate through gesturing and drawing.

It’s also common for speech therapists to encourage a patient’s loved ones to get involved in group therapy sessions. Going through speech therapy with your family by your side can inspire progress, which means that recovering from aphasia is a family affair.

When should I see my doctor about speech issues?

We all stumble over words every now and then. So-called “brain farts” can happen to everyone, young or old, and are usually no cause for concern. But if you’re experiencing more extensive speech issues that are beginning to impact your quality of life, it may be time to talk to a doctor.

Early-stage symptoms of primary progressive aphasia include:

    • Difficulty finding the right word
    • Mixing up words or using words incorrectly
    • Trouble understanding simple conversations and words
    • Difficulty reading, writing and spelling

Remember that aphasia can sometimes be caused by a more severe condition, like Alzheimer’s Disease or a brain tumor, so be sure to report any symptoms to your doctor.

How can I prevent aphasia?

Since aphasia is most commonly caused by strokes, taking action to prevent strokes can also prevent aphasia. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, maintaining low stress levels and getting plenty of sleep all work to reduce your risk of strokes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key for preventing almost any health condition, so remember to always take care of your body.


While aphasia is a frustrating condition, with enough time, effort and support it is possible for a patient to improve their ability to express themselves. People with aphasia can still lead happy and fulfilling lives alongside those they love. All it takes is time, patience, and a willingness to try.