Trump is the first president to undergo the memory screening, Jackson said. The White House medical team chose the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), which was designed as a rapid screening tool for mild cognitive dysfunction — a loss of memory and clear thinking ability that sometimes precedes dementia.
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The 30-point test includes drawings of a lion and a rhinoceros, which patients must name. Test-takers are also asked to copy a simple line sketch of a cube; match the letter A to the number 1, the letter B to the number 2 and so on. They are asked to recall a list of five words and repeat very short lists of numbers forward and backward.
It also includes one of the best-known tests for early Alzheimer's disease -- the clock test, in which patients are asked to draw an analog clock face.
The exam assesses attention, planning, memory and visual skills, all of which deteriorate in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. A score of 26 or lower indicates dementia.
If the president had "some type of mental, cognitive issue," Jackson said, the test is sensitive enough to pick up on it. "He would not have gotten 30 out of 30 on the test," Jackson said. "So I’m very confident at this particular stage that he has nothing like that going on.”
Alzheimer’s patients often have trouble drawing or naming objects, and the test can quickly indicate problems with short-term memory. Spatial skills also deteriorate with MCI and dementia, as does attention.
Trump took the test during the annual physical that is customary for presidents at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Friday.