Donald Trump's perfect score on cognitive test inspires new do-it-yourself test

The Montreal doctor who developed the cognitive exam that U.S. President Donald Trump famously aced on his stem-to-stern physical earlier this year is now working on a do-it-yourself version of the test.

In 1996, neurologist Dr. Ziad Nasreddine, a Lebanese immigrant, developed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA, which has since become a standard test around the world for detecting early signs of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

It was meant to be administered and evaluated by a trained health professional, but when news of Trump's perfect score leaked out, thousands of people around the work tried to take the test online, with many news reports playing up the "match wits with Trump" angle — even though the test evaluates cognitive function, and not intelligence.

"I was surprised at how many web sites actually posted the test themselves and said, 'you try it, you see how you fare on the test,'" Dr. Nasreddine told CJAD 800's Dave Kaufman. "But the test wasn't developed for the public, they were developed for health professionals with very strict instructions on how to administer and score each item."

But inspired by the reaction to the test, Dr. Nasreddine and his colleagues began working in earnest on a version of the test that people can administer themselves.

Dr. Nasreddine says the test has actually been in the planning phase for years. The idea, he says, was to create a test that was accessible to the public to measure cognition, in much the same way other kinds of self-testing is.

"I think it's normal that people would want to monitor their blood-sugar, their blood pressure...maybe they'd want to monitor their cognition," he says.

Like the original MoCA, patients would have to name objects and animals, and test their memory and verbal fluency in what's being referred to as the mini-MoCA. The test would take about five or six minutes to complete.

A version of the scaled-down test is being administered to about 50 subjects at the Neuro Rive-Sud memory clinic in Greenfield Park, along with the full test. If the results compare favourably, Dr. Nasreddine and his staff will move to a second phase of testing.