Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lumosity's data analysis brings out some interesting results about human intelligence



Some interesting facts from Lumosity's data warehouse ("big data" as referred to in company release).  The company has been collecting human cognitive performance ("human intelligence") data for more than 40 million people who have been tracked for up to 6 years. Results from two studies have been published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Interesting facts from first study

  • People with 7 hours of sleep perform better then people with less or more sleep
  • People with 1-2 drinks a day perform better than people who consume more drinks or no drinks at all

"The study presented two examples of research that can be conducted using Lumosity's dataset. Using survey results and a subset of the dataset tied to baseline performance on three cognitive exercises, the first study examined the effects of sleep and alcohol consumption on cognitive abilities, including speed (N = 162,462), memory (N = 161,717), and flexibility (N = 127,048). The study found that cognitive performance in all three tasks was most efficient, on average, for users reporting seven hours of sleep each night. The study also found that low to moderate alcohol intake – a self-reported one or two drinks per day – was associated with better performance in all three tasks, with brain performance scores decreasing steadily with every additional drink."

Interesting facts from the second study

  • Young adults in the age group 18-24 perform the best on learning related tasks
  • "Acquired" intelligence increases with age but rate of increase drops over the years
  • Loss of learning capability is well compensated by "experience" such that older adults can still perform at a high level

"The second study examined how learning ability changes over the lifespan and how aging might affect learning across distinct cognitive abilities. The study included adults ages 18-74, and looked at how age influences improvement over the course of the first 25 sessions of a cognitive task. Tasks that rely on fluid intelligence, which contribute to learning, problem solving, and the ability to adapt to novel challenges such as working memory (N = 22,718) and spatial memory tasks (N = 23,109), were compared to tasks that rely on crystallized knowledge, which draws on accumulated knowledge and skills from your life experience such as verbal fluency (N = 107,478) and basic arithmetic (N = 41,338). The study found that the amount of improvement decreased as age increased, and that performance on tasks that rely on fluid intelligence decreased with age at a faster rate than the tasks that rely on crystallized intelligence. This finding supports the notion that, although raw cognitive performance peaks in young adulthood, the lifelong accumulation of knowledge compensates such that older adults can still perform at a high level."