Comparative accuracies of two common screening instruments for the classification of Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment and healthy aging

Objective—To compare the utility and diagnostic accuracy of the MoCA and MMSE in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in a clinical cohort. Method—321 AD, 126 MCI and 140 older adults with healthy cognition (HC) were evaluated using the the MMSE, MoCA, a standardized neuropsychological battery according to the Consortium to Establish a Registry of Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD-NB) and an informant based measure of functional impairment, the Dementia Severity Rating Scale (DSRS). Diagnostic accuracy and optimal cut-off scores were calculated for each measure, and a method for converting MoCA to MMSE scores is presented also. Results—The MMSE and MoCA offer reasonably good diagnostic and classification accuracy as compared to the more detailed CERAD-NB; however, as a brief cognitive screening measure the MoCA was more sensitive and had higher classification accuracy for differentiating MCI from HC. Complementing the MMSE or the MoCA with the DSRS significantly improved diagnostic accuracy.