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The focus of this thesis is to understand the purpose of cognitive assessment exams while providing a detailed analysis and critique. This is to understand their provided benefits and limitations in order to stimulate better clinical practice through implementation of these exams. This thesis first briefly details the history of humankind’s understanding of cognitive impairment and dementia. Then, the six major areas of cognition tested by most major cognitive exams are introduced and defined, including visual spatial, executive functions, verbal fluency, memory, attention, and orientation. The dysfunction in specific brain regions that lead to cognitive impairment is discussed, as well as how these brain regions regulate both general behavior and performance on different cognitive assessments. Next, six commonly used cognitive assessment exams are introduced including the Clock Draw Test (CDT), Trail Making Test (TMT), Verbal Fluency Exams, COGselftest (CST), Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA). This section provides background information on each exam, steps for how exams are administered, and also an analysis of the utility for each exam. Cognitive assessment exams are some of the most important tools utilized by healthcare providers to aid in the treatment of those with cognitive impairment and dementia. This paper aims to further detail their importance and provide insight into potential improvements including how to most effectively assess cognitive impairment and shaping these exams to distinguish types of dementias.

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