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Mental Status

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There are many different versions of the mental status exam. The structure provided here follows a fairly standard format and is organized around the anatomy of the brain. Thus, we begin with tests that involve global brain function and that determine how well we will be able to perform the rest of the exam (alertness, attention, and cooperation). We next ask a few standard questions that make for easy comparisons between different patients or different exams of the same patient (orientation). This is followed by testing of limbic and global functions (memory); dominant (usually left) hemispheric language functions (language); additional testing for left parietal dysfunction (Gerstmann's syndrome), right parietal dysfunction (neglect), and frontal dysfunction (sequencing tasks and frontal release signs). Finally, we conclude with a few more tests that are less localizing but provide important clues about brain dysfunction (apraxia, logic and abstraction, delusions, hallucination, and mood).

3. Mental Status Introduction

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