That cognitive test doesn’t mean what Donald Trump thinks it means


“So, the last time I was at the hospital, well, probably a year ago, a little less than a year ago, I asked the doctor. I said: ‘Is there some kind of a cognitive test that I could take? Because I have been hearing about it, because I want to shut these people up.’

“They’re — they’re fake news. They make up stories. I mean, like, I will do an interview with you. You — I didn’t say you can ask me about this, you can’t — I say, ask me anything. I did one with Chris Wallace.

“He was nice enough to say. He said, I just want to tell the audience there was no question that’s off bounds, OK? And he’s a tough cookie. And it was a good interview. I liked it. I enjoyed it. And it was good.

“But I didn’t say, you can only ask this. You can only — we have to be sharp. If you’re in the office of the presidency, we have to be sharp.

“So, they were saying all these different things. It was going all over, whichever stuck. None of it stuck, fortunately. But one of the reasons it didn’t is that I took a test. I said to the doctor — it was Dr. Ronny Jackson — I said: ‘Is there some kind of a test, an acuity test?’

“And he said: ‘There actually is.’ And he named it, whatever it might be. And it was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult, like a memory question. It’s like, you will go person, woman, man, camera, TV.

“So, they say, could you repeat that? So, I said, yes. So, it’s person, woman, man, camera, TV. OK, that’s very good.

“If you get it in order, you get extra points. If you — OK, now he’s asking you other questions, other questions. And then 10 minutes, 15, 20 minutes later, they say, remember the first question, not the first, but the 10th question? Give us that again. Can you do that again? And you go, person, woman, man, camera TV.

“If you get it in order, you get extra points.

“They said, nobody gets it in order. It’s actually not that easy. But, for me, it was easy.

“And that’s not an easy question. In other words, they ask you to — they give you five names, and you have to repeat them. And that’s OK. If you repeat them out of order, it’s OK, but you know, it’s not as good.

“But then, when you go back, about 20, 25 minutes later, and they say, go back to that question — they don’t tell you this. Go back to that question, and repeat them. Can you do it? And you go, person, woman, man, camera, TV.

“They say: ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’

“I do it because I have, like, a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.”

Uh huh.

This isn’t the first time Trump has mentioned taking a test to measure his cognitive abilities. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity — notice a pattern? — earlier this month, he said this:

“I actually took one when I — very recently, when I — when I was — the radical left were saying, is he all there? Is he all there? And I proved I was all there, because I got — I aced it. I aced the test. … I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors. And they were very surprised. They said, that’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did.”

OK, so let’s start here: Trump appears to be misremembering when he took the test. The last time Trump was at Walter Reed was in November 2019 as a part of an unscheduled trip to undergo a “quick exam and labs” as part of his annual physical. Jackson wasn’t the White House doctor at that point, however. He had vacated that post after Trump had nominated him to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, only to watch Jackson pull out amid controversy over his prescribing practices. While Jackson returned to the White House medical team, Dr. Sean Conley took over as the president’s chief physician.
Trump’s last full physical in February 2019 was performed by Dr. Conley. Dr. Jackson has not performed a physical on Trump at Walter Reed since January 2018, after which he praised the President’s results on a cognitive test.

So, Jackson likely didn’t conduct the test if it was administered the last time Trump was at Water Reed or, as he told Hannity, that he took it “very recently.”

But let’s put that aside and focus on the test itself.

The Washington Post reports that the test Trump was given is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCa for short. According to the test’s website, this is why it is administered:

“When a patient starts to experience memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline, it can be a stressful, uncertain, and trying time for everyone involved, from the patient to their family, friends, caretakers, and even healthcare professionals. No matter what the cause of the cognitive impairment, it’s important to quickly find out how an individual’s cognitive function is affected so that an appropriate treatment plan can be devised. This is where MoCA comes in—our straightforward tool for diagnosing patients and gauging an appropriate follow-up and treatment plan.”

The site says that the test is used to diagnose, among other things, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and schizophrenia.

“Acing” the MoCa then simply means that you are very unlikely to have any of those conditions. Doctors telling Trump that they “rarely” see anybody do as well as he did on the test is not some sort of testament to the power of his mind, but rather an indication of the sort of patient to whom the test is typically administered. It is not any sort of intelligence or IQ test, as Trump seems to believe.

In short: The test doesn’t tell Trump what he seems to think it does.

Now, of course, none of this means that Trump is suffering from any sort of major cognitive impairment either! In fact, if he “aced” it — as Trump claims — he is likely out of the woods for any of the major illnesses I listed above.

But it’s also important to note what the MoCa doesn’t prove: it is not meant to be a measure of overall mental acuity or fitness for an office like the presidency. Trump may well have “like, a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.” But that’s not what this test proves.

Source : Nbcnewyork