Should Biden take a cognitive test? Here’s what it would — and wouldn’t — tell us

Karen Kaplan | Los Angeles Times (TNS)

It seemed like a sensible suggestion for assessing the capabilities of an 81-year-old man seeking voters’ approval to remain in the White House until January 2029.

To reassure the American people, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked President Biden, would he be willing to take a cognitive test and share the results with the American people?

Biden demurred. In carrying out his duties as leader of the free world, he said, “I have a cognitive test every single day.”

Though the president dismissed the suggestion, medical experts said the idea of having Biden — along with his 78-year-old challenger, former President Trump — take some kind of cognitive exam had merit.

“Let’s give it to both of them,” said Dr. Louise Aronson, a geriatrician at UC San Francisco.

Kevin Duff, a neuropsychologist at the Oregon Health & Science University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, likened the proposal to the long-standing practice of asking presidential contenders to release their tax returns.

There would be several types of tests to choose from. A simple screening exam could involve just a handful of questions and be completed in minutes. An in-depth evaluation could take a full day.

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When former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson evaluated Trump in 2018, he opted for the popular Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA Test. Over the course of about 15 minutes, patients are asked to recall a list of five words, draw a clock with its hands set to a particular time, do subtraction with double-digit numbers, and come up with the names of animals in a drawing, among other tasks. At the time, Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30.

Whether long or short, a good test measures multiple “domains of cognition,” Aronson said. There’s short-term memory and long-term memory. There’s the ability to communicate through both spoken and written language. There’s attention, comprehension, judgment, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making and more.

“If a person completely aces a test, that tells you something,” said Dr. Laura Mosqueda, a professor of family medicine and geriatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “And if they bomb a test, it tells you something.”

A score …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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