President Donald Trump waves after speaking at the Conversations with the Women of America at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by Canadian immigrant

“This is a good example, I think, that will be helpful to change views about immigration. And maybe for Mr. Trump himself to consider immigrants as contributors to advancing science, advancing our societies.”

When the White House released the results of a test on Donald Trump’s mental aptitude Tuesday, showing he aced it without signs of cognitive decline, there was one person out there brimming with pride despite not knowing the president.

That person was Ziad Nasreddine — who designed the test.

The Lebanese-Canadian neurologist learned from a reporter Tuesday afternoon that the White House had selected the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to test the president’s faculties after days of speculation about his state.

This was the test Nasreddine developed as a young researcher two decades ago, in an effort to quickly assess, within 10 or 12 minutes, whether someone has suffered light cognitive impairment or the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, by asking them to perform tasks such as drawing a clock, identifying animals and remembering words.

He says it has now been used in 200 countries, in 60 languages, and has been deployed in one developing country to demonstrate its leader was no longer fit to govern. On Tuesday, the White House announced Trump’s score: 30 for 30.

”It’s really an honour for me,” said Nasreddine, now affiliated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities in Quebec.

”I’m really thrilled, and happy they decided to use it over other tests.”

Related: New year, new start? Not for President Trump

The White House doctor announced during a briefing with reporters that he selected the Montreal cognitive test among several available. Dr. Ronny Jackson — who also worked with the previous administration, and was praised in social media by former Barack Obama staff — said he never doubted this president’s cognitive ability. He said he talks to Trump daily, and didn’t feel he even needed the test.

”The president asked me to do it,” Jackson said.

Washington had been abuzz in recent days with details from a tell-all-style book suggesting everyone in Trump’s entourage questions his mental stability. Trump had responded by referring to himself as a “stable genius,” and requested the cognitive exam.

Nasreddine cautioned that his exam doesn’t test for everything.

It’s designed to identify early cognitive decline — not other psychological issues, or personality attributes, such as judgment. He also points out that it can be tricked by someone with a very high level of education.

”The test is a screening measure. It has limitations,” he said.

”It’s a test mostly for executive functions, and memory. Meaning organization, planning, abstract thinking… (Still), if it’s 30 on 30 it’s really reassuring — in terms of the ability of the person to have minimum cognitive function to be able to do important things, in terms of language, memory, executive function. It does not absolutely assess personality issues.”

He’s proud of one other thing about this news.

Related: Trump gets ‘excellent health’ report from White House doctor

Nasreddine came to Canada as a teenager with his Druze family during the civil war in his homeland, Lebanon. He was 15. He, his widowed mother, and his sisters came to visit an uncle for the summer of 1983 — and, with their country ravaged by sectarian strife, they stayed.

They applied for permanent residency; he went to school, eventually attended the University of California at Los Angeles, and moved back to Canada in the 1990s when he designed the cognitive test.

He recognizes the irony of his test having helped a president who kept out war refugees, promoted a Muslim travel ban, is working to end chain migration where relatives help other relatives immigrate and reportedly used crude terms during Oval Office meetings to describe poor countries immigrants come from.

He says he hopes the president draws some lessons from his story.

”I’m an immigrant,” said Nasreddine.

”It’s an honour for me to be able to contribute, to assessing the president of the United States. No matter who the person is, for me it’s an honour. … I think immigrants can be proud that they are contributing. And this is a good example, I think, that will be helpful to change views about immigration. And maybe for Mr. Trump himself to consider immigrants as contributors to advancing science, advancing our societies.”

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Premier promises Nanaimo byelection before February budget debate

Historically safe NDP seat will be vacated by longtime MLA Leonard Krog

Suspect who died at Nanaimo ferry terminal shot himself at the same time police fired

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Regional District of Nanaimo’s Area A and B have new directors

Keith Wilson and Vanessa Craig will join board table

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Eighty-eight year old woman keeps shaving her head for Tour de Rock

NANAIMO - Senior parts with hair to raise $10,000 for Cops for Cancer

OPINION: Nanaimo not only voted, but voted with purpose

Nanaimo’s civic leadership will see the change that so many wanted

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read