Mini–Mental State Examination (MMSE)

The Mini–Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Folstein test is a 30-point questionnaire that is used extensively in clinical and research settings to measure cognitive impairment. It is commonly used in medicine and allied health to screen for dementia. It is also used to estimate the severity and progression of cognitive impairment and to follow the course of cognitive changes in an individual over time; thus making it an effective way to document an individual's response to treatment. The MMSE's purpose has been not, on its own, to provide a diagnosis for any particular nosological entity.

Administration of the test takes between 5 and 10 minutes and examines functions including registration, attention and calculation, recall, language, ability to follow simple commands and orientation. It was originally introduced by Folstein et al. in 1975, in order to differentiate organic from functional psychiatric patients, but is very similar to, or even directly incorporates, tests which were in use previous to its publication. This test is not a mental status examination. The standard MMSE form which is currently published by Psychological Assessment Resources is based on its original 1975 conceptualization, with minor subsequent modifications by the authors.

Advantages to the MMSE include requiring no specialized equipment or training for administration, and has both validity and reliability for the diagnosis and longitudinal assessment of Alzheimer's Disease. Due to its short administration period and ease of use, it is useful for cognitive assessment in the clinician's office space or at the bedside. Disadvantages to the utilization of the MMSE is that it is affected by demographic factors; age and education exert the greatest effect. The most frequently noted disadvantage of the MMSE relates to its lack of sensitivity to mild cognitive impairment and its failure to adequately discriminate patients with mild Alzheimer's Disease from normal patients. The MMSE has also received criticism regarding its insensitivity to progressive changes occurring with severe Alzheimer's Disease. As the content of the MMSE is highly verbal, lacking sufficient items to adequately measure visuospatial and/or constructional praxis. Hence, its utility in detecting impairment caused by focal lesions, is uncertain.