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The Mini Mental State Examination
  1. Basil Ridha*,
  2. Martin Rossor
  1. *Clinical Research fellow,
  2. Professor of Clinical Neurology, Dementia Research Centre, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, 8 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG; E-mail: bridha{at}



Folstein and colleagues published the Mini Mental State examination (MMSE) for brief quantitative assessment of cognitive function 30 years ago (Folstein et al. 1975). Since then it has been translated into many languages and has become the most widely used brief test of cognition in clinical and research settings, with adequate validation. The aim of the examination is to:

  • screen for cognitive impairment

  • assess the severity of any impairment

  • monitor change by serial testing

It relies heavily on verbal cognitive function at the expense of nondominant hemisphere skills and is vulnerable to the vagaries of scoring by different observers. Nevertheless, it has stood the test of time and provides a common and widely understood tool to measure global cognitive function.


The MMSE is a collection of questions that test various cognitive domains including orientation to time and place, repetition, verbal recall, attention and calculation, language and visual construction

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