Mild neurocognitive disorder was not included in previous editions of the DSM. The primary feature of all neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) is an acquired cognitive decline in one or more cognitive domains. The cognitive decline must not just be a sense of a loss of cognitive abilities, but observable by others — as well as tested by a cognitive assessment (such as a neuropsychological test battery).

In other words, it means a person’s thinking has suffered a decline, in one or more important areas such as memory, language, attention, etc.

Specifically, neurocognitive disorders can affect memory, attention, learning, language, perception, and social cognition. They interfere significantly with a person’s everyday independence in major neurocognitive disorder, but not so in minor neurocognitive disorder.

Specific Symptoms of Mild Neurocognitive Disorder

1. Evidence of modest cognitive decline from a previous level of performance in one or more cognitive domains — such as complex attention, executive function, learning, memory, language, perceptual-motor or social cognition.

This evidence should consist of:

  • Concern of the individual, a knowledgeable informant (such as a friend or family member), or the clinician that there’s been a mild decline in cognitive function; and
  • A modest impairment in cognitive performance, preferably documented by standardized neuropsychological testing. Of if neuropsychological testing isn’t available, another type of qualified assessment.

2. The cognitive deficits do not interfere with capacity for independence in everyday activities (e.g., complex instrumental activities of daily living such as paying bills or managing medications are preserved, but greater effort, compensatory strategies, or accommodation may be required).

3. The cognitive deficits don’t occur exclusively in context of a delirium, and are not better explained by another mental disorder.

Specify whether due to:

Terminology new to the DSM-5. Code: 331.83 (G31.84)