Definition of MCI

Mild cognitive impairment is used to characterize individuals who do not meet criteria for dementia but are experiencing substantial difficulties with memory that do not interfere with routine daily functioning. In a report of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), Petersen et al. (2001) defined MCI as the state of cognition and functional ability between normal aging and very mild dementia and provided the following diagnostic criteria: (1) A memory complaint, preferably corroborated by an informant, (2) objective memory impairment, (3) normal general cognitive function, (4) intact activities of daily living, and (5) the patient does not meet criteria for dementia.

It should be noted that this definition still focuses on memory impairment and assumes the preservation of other cognitive functions including executive functioning, visuospatial abilities, praxis, language, and recognition. Thus, this definition might be criticized as narrow in focus as was AAMI. However, others have suggested that declines may be evident in domains other than memory. According to this definition, MCI may represent a more heterogeneous disorder with various possible outcomes. In any case, despite the focus on memory in most definitions, the concept of MCI is relatively general and has not been associated with standardized diagnostic criteria (Hogan and McKeith, 2001). Further revisions in the concept are likely.

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