Trump Touts His Cognitive Test Results. How Would You Do?

July 28, 2020 by Dan McCue
President Donald Trump calls on members of the press during a news conference at the White House, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – There’s probably never been a month in presidential politics like July 2020.

For the better part of it, the current occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump, has sought to display his mental fitness on television, by reciting in interviews what he said was a sample cognitive testing sequence.

“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,” the 74-year-old president said on Sean Hannity’s primetime Fox News show.

“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,” Trump said again during a session with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

Most recently, in an appearance with Dr. Marc K. Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University, Trump defended his mental fitness for office by describing the cognitive test he said he’d taken.

Typically, the president beams with pride reeling off the series of nouns: “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”

Just as often he crows that presumptive Democratic president nominee Joe Biden wouldn’t do as well as he did.

Almost from the moment Biden entered the 2020 presidential contest last year, Trump has been suggesting the former vice president has lost some of his mental sharpness. But no matter how often he’s referred to “Sleepy” Joe or said “the guy has just lost it,” the attacks don’t seem to be working.

Instead, the president’s defense of his ability to handle the mental rigors of the job, has sent viewers scrambling online to find free cognitive ability tests to take on their own or with a friend.

“‘Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV … nobody gets it in order … but for me, it was easy,” Trump declared during one Fox News appearance.

“If you get it in order, you get extra points,” he said.

“Now Joe should take that test because something’s going on,” Trump said. “And, I say this with respect. I mean — going to probably happen to all of us, right? You know? It’s going to happen.”

What does Joe Biden have to say about all this?

“I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against,” he said last month in answer to a reporter’s question.

Trump has said that he asked Dr. Ronny Jackson, who last acted as his physician in 2018, if there was a mental acuity test he could take. At the time the president was furious over his depiction in the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump House,” in which journalist Michael Wolff described some White House advisers questioning his fitness for office.

Jackson later recorded that the president had received a score of 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

The problem with all this, experts in neurology say is that the assessment, also called the “MoCa” is a basic screening test. It doesn’t measure IQ, nor does a high score rule out declines in reasoning, memory or judgment.

Dr. Raymond Turner, professor of neurology and director of Georgetown University’s Memory Disorders Program, said the MoCa measures a range of cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, language, visuospatial skills, and “executive function,” which includes abstraction, reasoning, and insight.

If all answers are correct the score is 30, but a normal performance is considered anything score greater than 26.

Turner noted that one must also take the tested person’s age and level of education into about because the normal score declines with aging and with less education.

Asked if it’s common to use the assessment on a 74-year-old man in the course of an examination, Turner said, there is no clear consensus on the issue because the treatments for dementia it may help diagnose are inadequate.

“If there is any suggestion of cognitive decline either from the patient or from others who know the individual well, the MoCa  or a similar test should be used to assess cognition,” Turner said, adding “cognitive testing may also be used for older individuals to assess continued fitness for duty.”

Turner said a sitting president should have a MoCa score in the 29-30 range, which Trump appears to have done, and that a lower score would raise concerns.

“Anyone seeking higher office should be evaluated for fitness for duty by their regular healthcare provider,” he continued, adding that the test and the results are a private matter between the patient and their provider.

Asked if there is an age someone should take the assessment regardless of symptoms, Turner said “this is a controversial issue.”

“Some advise annual cognitive screening beyond age 60 or 65, others recommend no screening since currently available treatments are inadequate – and testing only if and when new symptoms appear,” he said. “Again, when more effective treatments and preventions become available, screening will be justifiable from a risk/benefit and cost/benefit analysis,” he said.

Want to see how you’d do on a cognitive test? While these vary from a test one would find in a clinical environment, some free sample tests can be found here

In The News

Health

Voting

Mental Health

Jail Suicide Rates High Due to Inadequate Mental Health Care
Criminal Justice
Jail Suicide Rates High Due to Inadequate Mental Health Care
February 26, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

The failure of the prison system to provide adequate mental health care is causing people to kill themselves at high rates, according to a new report.  The report, published in February in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet, reviewed data from 27 countries, concluding that some of... Read More

Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
Mental Health
Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
February 19, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A congressional subcommittee tried to assess the well-being and mental health of its own workforce Thursday after a year that one of its members described as “like drinking from a firehose while in freefall.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-N.Y., was talking about how the COVID-19... Read More

Pandemic Fever Got You Down? Smash Up Stuff at The Rage Room
Mental Health
Pandemic Fever Got You Down? Smash Up Stuff at The Rage Room

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (AP) — After nearly a year of being trapped in pandemic isolation, some people just want to pick up a sledgehammer and smash something to smithereens."That felt good," sweating insurance executive Josh Elohim said after reducing a computer printer and other stuff to... Read More

Republicans Block $2,000 Virus Checks Despite Trump Demand
Congress
Republicans Block $2,000 Virus Checks Despite Trump Demand

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans shot down a Democratic bid on Thursday to pass President Donald Trump's longshot, end-of-session demand for $2,000 direct payments to most Americans as he ponders whether to sign a long-overdue COVID-19 relief bill. The made-for-TV clash came as the Democratic-controlled chamber... Read More

Vaccines' Rollout and Pent-Up Consumer Demand Brighten US Economic Outlook
Economy
Vaccines' Rollout and Pent-Up Consumer Demand Brighten US Economic Outlook

WASHINGTON — If the new COVID-19 vaccines prove effective and are widely accepted, the result could be a welcome surge in the nation's economy as well as an end to the pandemic nightmare. That's because millions of Americans, especially those in higher income brackets, have been... Read More

Think Tanks Pen Joint Letter Urging Congress to Prioritize Impending College Student Crisis
Education
Think Tanks Pen Joint Letter Urging Congress to Prioritize Impending College Student Crisis
December 10, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

This week, a group of prominent Washington D.C. think tank organizations sent a joint letter to Congressional leaders urging them to prioritize bipartisan-backed legislation that would benefit America’s college students. The letter was sent to the House and Senate minority and majority leaders, as well as... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top