Arches. Photo by Daniel Chia

mini mental state examination (MMSE)

A screening test designed to measure the cognitive (thinking) abilities in adults. It can be used to test if a person is cognitively impaired, to track the deterioration or improvement in cognitive functioning over time, or to rate the degree of cognitive impairment. It is scored on a scale of 30, with 0 being profoundly impaired and 24-30 normal for most adults. As a screening test, the MMSE is designed to yield falsely positive results (i.e. cognitive problems when there are none) as opposed to falsely negative results (i.e. no problems when problems do, in fact, exist). Because of this, low MMSE scores are usually followed up with more in-depth cognitive assessments for clinical diagnosis purposes.