Revised standard test for dementia takes 10 minutes to administer

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Researchers have fine-tuned a standard test to more accurately detect dementia and cognitive impairment. It takes only 10 minutes to administer, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The standard scoring method for dementia, known as "National Institute of Aging's Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease's 10-word list," (CWL) consists of three immediate-recall trials of a 10-word list, followed by an inference task, and then a delayed-recall trial of a word list.

Lead author William R. Shankle said under traditional scoring, only the total score from the fourth trial is used. But he said more information could be gleaned from analyzing the patterns of words recalled based on their placement in the list.

This mental skills test uses the individual responses to every item in all four trials to come up with an answer. It takes about 10 minutes to administer online. Once the answers are submitted, a formula is used to calculate the final score that within seconds "indicates if a person is impaired or not with an overall accuracy 97 percent," Shankle said.