Comparison of Mini-Mental State Examination and Montreal Cognitive Assessment Ratings across Levels of Parkinson's Disease Severity

Allison Snyder, Ann L. Gruber-Baldini, F. Rainer Von Coelln, Joseph M. Savitt, Stephen G. Reich, Melissa J. Armstrong, Lisa M. Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cognitive impairment (CI) is common in Parkinson's disease (PD) and an important cause of disability. Screening facilitates early detection of CI and has implications for management. Preclinical disability is when patients have functional limitations but maintain independence through compensatory measures. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) with levels of PD severity and disability. Methods: PD patients (n = 2,234) in a large observational study were stratified by disease severity, based on Total Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (Total UPDRS) and Hoehn and Yahr (HY) stage. Using MMSE (n = 1,184) or MoCA (n = 1,050) and basic (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) scales for disability, linear regression analysis examined associations between cognitive status and disability. Results: Cognition and disability were highly correlated, with the strongest correlation between IADL and MoCA. Only 16.0% of mean MMSE scores were below threshold for CI (28) and only in advanced PD (Total UPDRS 60+, HY≥3). MoCA scores fell below CI threshold (26) in 66.2% of the sample and earlier in disease (Total UPDRS 30+, HY≥2), corresponding with impairments in ADLs. Conclusion: In a large clinical dataset, a small fraction of MMSE scores fell below cutoff for CI, reinforcing that MMSE is an insensitive screening tool in PD. MoCA scores indicated CI earlier in disease and coincided with disability. This study shows that MoCA, but not MMSE is sensitive to the emergence of early cognitive impairment in PD and correlates with the concomitant onset of disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1995-2003
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Parkinson's disease
  • cognitive impairment
  • cognitive screening
  • disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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