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?
- 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:
- 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.