Mini Mental State Exam function

Mini Mental State Examination 1002Photo by: Mindwalker


The mini-mental state examination, which is also known as the MMSE, standardized MMSE, SMMSE, or the Folstein, is a brief examination consisting of eleven questions intended to evaluate an adult patient's level of cognitive functioning. It was introduced in 1975 and designed for use with elderly patients who are able to cooperate at an optimum level with an examiner for only a brief period of time—no more than a few minutes.


The MMSE concentrates on the cognitive aspects of mental functioning, excluding questions about the patient's mood or such abnormal experiences as dissociation. It is used most often to evaluate older adults for or . The MMSE can be used to detect a decline in cognitive function; to follow the course of the patient's illness, and to monitor responses to treatment. Recently, it has been professionally approved as a measurement of a patient's ability to complete an advance directive, or so-called living will.

The test has also been used in research as a screener in epidemiological studies for disorders that affect cognition, and to monitor changes in subjects'cognition during clinical trials. In 2001 the MMSE was recommended by a special panel of experts for use as a screener in evaluating cognitive function in depressed patients. It has also been used recently to measure the effects of acupuncture in improving mood and some cognitive skills in patients with Alzheimer's.

The MMSE evaluates six areas of cognitive function: orientation, attention, immediate recall, short-term recall, language, and the ability to follow simple verbal and written commands. In addition, it provides a total score allowing the examiner to place the patient on a scale of cognitive function. It correlates well with a standard measure of cognition in adults, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). In contrast to the Wechsler, which takes about an hour or more to administer, the MMSE can be completed in ten minutes or less.


The MMSE should not be used as the sole criterion for assessment during differential diagnosis of psychiatric disorders, as there are many disorders and conditions that affect cognitive functioning. The results of the MMSE should be interpreted in the context of the patient's history, a full mental status examination, a physical examination, and laboratory findings, if any.

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