Cognitive Disorders

Brain function often changes with age, making multitasking more difficult or slowing information retrieval. However, when brain function declines in a way that interferes with daily life and independence, this cognitive impairment might require the help of a neurologist.

Surrealist portrait of a man with a fragmented mind.

What Are Cognitive Problems?

Cognitive problems impair a person’s brain function and ability to complete everyday tasks. Signs of cognitive impairment include trouble concentrating, remembering, learning new things, and making important decisions.

In addition, those with cognitive issues may struggle to complete tasks, follow instructions, and understand or be aware of their surroundings. They may also show changes in behavior or mood, including anger, depression, and loss of motivation.

Cognitive impairment can range from mild to severe. It results from a wide range of causes, including medication, disease, or injury.

Mild cognitive impairment is a specific diagnosis that bridges the gap between the expected decline in memory and function naturally occurring with age and the serious cognitive concerns that come with a diagnosis like dementia.

According to the CDC, over 16 million people in the U.S. may have cognitive issues.

How Can You Treat Cognitive Disorders?

Treating cognitive issues depends on their cause. Common cognitive disorders include:

Substance-induced cognitive impairment
Developmental disorders
Motor skill disorders

Since the underlying causes of cognitive disorders vary, the treatments also vary. Each of these conditions requires a different treatment approach.

Some cases of cognitive impairment are multifactorial, which means that the symptoms are caused by more than one condition.

Older man stacking blocks into the shape of a house.

Diagnosing Cognitive Impairment

Making a proper diagnosis is critical to managing cognitive impairment. Patients should discuss their symptoms with their neurologist, who may perform several tests to determine the source and the level of cognitive impairment.

Cognitive impairment tests may include a neurological exam, blood test, mental status exam, neuropsychological testing, PET scan, brain MRI or CT scan.

Through testing, your neurologist can diagnose any physical health problems contributing to a cognitive decline, such as a tumor or a stroke. Additionally, through brain imaging, they can diagnose certain degenerative disorders and set a baseline for your current level of cognitive function.

Since many conditions that cause cognitive impairment benefit from early identification and treatment, it’s critical to seek help for cognitive symptoms as soon as possible to stop or delay their progression.

Treatment Options

Often, treating cognitive issues requires a combination of therapies. These treatments typically combine medication with therapy and lifestyle changes.

For example, neurologists may prescribe drugs that boost neurotransmitter levels and regulate their activities to help facilitate a patient’s cognitive function. In addition to medication, a patient may also require occupational therapy, which will help them learn strategies to maintain their independence.

Lastly, improving a patient’s environment can allow those struggling with cognitive impairment to focus on tasks more easily and reduce frustration.

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Location & Hours

Los Angeles Neurology

11600 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 322
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 688-8800
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Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
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