Early diagnosis of MCI is believed to be important as it is hoped that early treatment can stop or at least delay the clinical deterioration from MCI to full AD. Brain tissue in patients with a diagnosis of MCI is less damaged than tissue in patients with a diagnosis of AD.

However, the very definition of MCI as a transitional zone between normal aging and diagnoses of dementia is relatively new and only established in the last decade or so as a new concept.

MCI is diagnosed when there is1:

  1. Evidence of memory impairment
  2. Preservation of general cognitive and functional abilities
  3. Absence of diagnosed dementia

In order to rule out an alternate diagnosis, a comprehensive clinical assessment including clinical observation, neuroimaging, blood tests and neuropsychological testing are often performed.


1. Morris, J C., Storandt, M., Miller, J. P., McKeel, D. W., Price, J. L., Rubin, E.H. & Berg, L. (2001). “Mild cognitive impairment represents early-stage Alzheimer disease”. Archives of Neurology 58 (3): 387–405.