Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA): baseline evaluation of cognition in the athletic population

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To assess baseline pre-season cognitive function in a young adult athletic population using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Tool (MoCA).


Baseline case series of normative data.


Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Male and female athletes (n=347) were recruited from the University of Calgary varsity athletic teams, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology college teams and Canadian National sports teams. Athletes (aged 18–40 years) underwent pre-season face-to-face standardised cognitive screening interviews.


Baseline biographical information and a pre-season MoCA test were performed.

Main Outcome Measurements

The MoCA is a one page global cognitive assessment tool with a maximum score of 30 points.


All subjects had grade 12 education or greater. Fifty-nine percent of the population was male. The average age was 22.02±3.49. The overall mean MoCA score was 26.62±2.20. One hundred and one subjects (29%) scored less than 26. For contact/collision sport athletes and non-contact sport athletes the mean MoCA scores were 26.41±2.28 and 26.97±2.01 respectively. There was a significant difference (p=0.018) between the contact/collision and non-contact sport athletes scores.


Approximately 29% of the athletic population surveyed had MoCA scores less than what is considered normal (<26). Contact/collision sport athletes had significantly lower MoCA's scores than non-contact sport athletes. Scores less than 26 have been associated with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's dementia in other studies. Multiple factors (eg, previous concussion, non-documented head injuries, malingering, etc) may play a role in explaining the present findings.


Competing interests None.

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