The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a general cognitive screening tool that has shown sensitivity in detecting mild levels of cognitive impairment in various clinical populations. Although mood dysfunction is common in referrals to memory clinics, the influence of mood on the MoCA has to date been largely unexplored.
In this study, we examined the impact of mood dysfunction on the MoCA using a memory clinic sample of individuals with depressive symptoms who did not meet criteria for a neurodegenerative disease.
Half of the group with depressive symptoms scored below the MoCA-suggested cutoff for cognitive impairment. As a group, they scored below healthy controls, but above individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. A MoCA subtask analysis revealed a pattern of executive/attentional dysfunction in those with depressive symptoms.
This observed negative impact of depressive symptomatology on the MoCA has interpretative implications for its utility as a cognitive screening tool in a memory clinic setting.