If we want to improve anything, we need to measure. The most popular test to assess cognitive capacity is the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) being used by clinicians. This is the test that asks you to draw a picture of a clock among other things, and gives you a score out of 30. If you have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), most likely your doctor gave you this test and determined that you have impaired cognitive capacity. However, it must be administered by a doctor, so it is not a useful tool for laymen like us to use at home. We need something else that can be accessed easily, and provide meaningful assessment without taking too much time.
There are many tests available on the internet, some of which are more like a game, and others that are more serious. Also, there are many tests available that only evaluate memory, while others offer cognitive capacity assessment. One thing I didn’t know when I started looking into this is that many of them are more interested in gathering data on you to use it for their own purposes. So, you need to be careful when choosing your test.
Fortunately, I came across an excellent article that provides a review of some of the more valid and useful tests that are available: https://bebrainfit.com/online-memory-tests/ After examining the options presented, I decided to chose Brain Labs by Cambridge Brain Sciences. https://brainlabs.m There are many others that also looked really good, but this one offers a free version, and does rather comprehensive testing of brain functions, including not only memory performance, but also cognitive performance. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete the test, and gives you a graph showing how you are doing, compared with previous days. It also shows your performance compared to that of other people. If you sign up for an upgrade, you can have unlimited access to those tests and it gives you a more comprehensive record of your performance. For now, I opted to stay with the basic plan.
As I stated, in the link above there are a lot more programs available. I am not saying that the one I chose is the best. Depending on your needs and preferences, one of the other programs may be more suitable for you. So, I recommend that people who are concerned about their cognitive skills and/or memory should read the review article, since it explains various aspects of these types of programs.
When I started using Brain Labs, I found some tests to be difficult to understand. For example, I kept getting one question wrong, even though I was paying special attention to carefully answer it. As I couldn’t see the error, I sent a message to the company, suggesting that there was a bug in the program. They quickly replied, saying that there has been no report of a bug. They suggested that I study the rules of the test more carefully, and sure enough, I found out that I wasn’t doing it right. (For some strange reason, this happens often. Maybe it’s one of the symptoms of MCI!)
Also, you don’t always get the same tests every day. I found some tests are more difficult than others, so on days that I get a more challenging test, my score tends to be lower. For this reason, I think that the scores do not necessarily tell if you are better today compared to yesterday. However, by continuing to do the test, I believe it will show a trend if you are improving or declining.
In my opinion, this type of memory test is one of the most important tools for people like us with compromised cognitive capacity.