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Trivial mental lapses often accompany advancing age, but differentiating these from the early stages of serious cognitive disorders can be a challenge even for experienced clinicians. Such questions have a greater urgency than ever, now that legislatures have largely disbanded mandatory retirement and more older persons remain active in professions that demand high mental acuity. Physicians are often asked to judge an individual's mental competence, yet few of us have the training or time to do detailed cognitive assessment. In addition, the simple screening tools we are familiar with, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination, are notoriously insensitive to early decline in highly functioning persons.
Anticipating this problem nearly a decade ago, the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions underwrote a series of studies and field tests that led to the development and validation of MicroCog, a cognitive testing battery designed to be administered and scored by a
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