13 June 2012

Where do the smartest people live?

There's been a snazzy map going around lately. It shows the brainiest cities in the USA based on the performance on Luminosity.

I'm digging the graphic, not just because I like maps and charts, but I've also lived in several of the top 25 areas, and it's good to see they're still representing.

Although the scores were normalized across age and gender, there is a strong trend towards college and university towns in these results, but 
"The result is not driven principally by college students, according to Daniel Sternberg, the Lumosity data scientist who developed the metro brain performance measure. "Since our analysis controlled for age, the reason they score well is not simply that they have a lot of young people," said Sternberg. "Instead, our analysis seems to show that users living in university communities tend to perform better than users of the same age in other locations."
However, the data only accounted for populations metros that had more than 500 observations. I would suspect a skew in those college town populations towards people more interested in and willing to try something like Luminosity to test and improve their mental performance.

Particularly interesting, though probably not surprising, is Richard Florida's report that creativity and knowledge work showed a strong association with Luminosity performance:
"The Lumosity data were significantly associated with both the share of adults with a bachelor's degree or greater (.56) and the percent engaged in knowledge and creative work (.45)."
As xkcd reminds us, correlation doesn't imply causation. Regardless, it's interesting to see what it looks like.

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