A cognitive deficit or impairment refers to a decline in various cognition categories. Cognitive deficiency or impairment may be a symptom of another underlying condition and is not restricted to any one disease or condition. The problem can be temporary, for example, if it is caused by sleep deprivation and can be rectified by getting more sleep, or permanent, as is the case with diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is a Cognitive Deficit?
The cognitive impairment definition is a decline in cognition. It may also be referred to as a cognitive disability or an intellectual disability. This may be present in some people in birth, happen as a natural result of aging, or occur due to environmental causes such as mental illness, trauma, brain damage, or neurological abnormalities. This can cause restrictions in the person’s ability to learn and operate. Cognition refers to the mental action or process of learning and understanding information through our senses, thoughts, and experiences. It includes intellectual functions such as attention, knowledge, memory, decision-making, reasoning, judgement, planning, understanding, visuospatial function, perception, and language.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment refers to the stage between the expected cognitive decline that comes with normal aging, and a more serious decline associated with dementia. It is usually characterized by issues with thinking, memory, judgement, or language. Somebody with mild cognitive impairment may be aware of it, but the changes are not usually severe enough to have a significant impact on daily life and activities.
Symptoms of mid cognitive impairment are usually noticed before a more serious cognitive impairment or deficit. Many people notice as they grow older that their forgetfulness is increasing. For example, it might take longer to remember somebody’s name or think of the word you wanted to say. A mild cognitive impairment is likely to have more symptoms and cause consistent or increasing concern regarding mental performance. For example, the person affected may forget things more often, forget important events, feel more overwhelmed by planning and decision-making, have trouble finding their way around familiar environments, lose their train of thought more often, or become more impulsive and have poorer judgement.
Mild cognitive impairment doesn’t just cause symptoms that are directly related to the issue, such as those mentioned above. Somebody with mild cognitive impairment may also experience anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, or apathy.
Causes and Risk Factors
There is no one single cause of mild cognitive impairment. Symptoms may remain stable for a long time, improve over time, or lead to a more serious condition such as dementia. Evidence suggests that often, mild cognitive impairment will develop from the same type of brain changes seen in people with forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. The biggest risk factors are old age, smoking, diabetes, obesity, depression, low education level, lack of physical exercise, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and having a specific gene known as APOE e4.
Mild cognitive impairment is not uncommon for people as they get older, although it can happen to people of any age. Understanding what it is, what can cause it, and the symptoms is important.