Boulder may not be home to the smartest people in America, but ranking in the top 25 of metros across the nation isn’t bad.
In his second year of determining America’s “brainiest” metros, using rankings developed by Lumos Labs via its online brain-performance program, Lumosity, Richard Florida of TheAtlanticCities.com ranked Boulder No. 16.
Florida says he based this year’s analysis on data from 2.4 million users. The rankings cover five key cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention and problem-solving. The data was normalized into a basic brain performance index controlling for age and gender. Location data comes from the players’ IP addresses, and scores were aggregated to the city and metro level.
Only regions with 500 or more users were included and the full data set covers 478 core-based statistical areas, which include metropolitan and micropolitan areas.
Florida points out that the data are based on Lumosity users and likely skew toward more highly educated and affluent individuals.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Brainiest Metros (Core-based Statistical Areas):
- Ithaca, New York (Cornell University)
- State College, Pennsylvania (Penn State)
- Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue University)
- Iowa City, Iowa (University of Iowa)
- Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University of Science and Technology)
- Ann Arbor, Michigan (University of Michigan)
- Bloomington, Indiana (Indiana University Bloomington)
- Madison, Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Lawrence, Kansas (University of Kansas)
- Pullman, Washington (Washington State University)
- College Station-Bryan, Texas (Texas A&M University)
- Appleton, Wisconsin (Lawrence University)
- Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
- Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Virginia (Virginia Tech, Radford University)
- Charlottesville, Virginia (University of Virginia)
- Boulder, Colorado (University of Colorado Boulder)
- Provo-Orem, Utah (Brigham Young University)
- Harrisonburg, Virginia (James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University)
- Rolla, Missouri (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
- Houghton, Michigan (Michigan Technological University)
- Muncie, Indiana (Ball State University)
- Corvallis, Oregon (Oregon State University)
- Boone, North Carolina (Appalachian State University)
- Logan, Utah-Indiana (Utah State University)
- Stillwater, Oklahoma (Oklahoma State University)
The top 25 are mainly smaller metros and college towns (the name of major college or university is noted in parentheses). Lumosity data scientist Daniel Sternberg explains the prominence of college towns:
“College towns tend to do well because education is correlated with cognitive performance. We’ve seen in our other research that those with advanced degrees tend to perform better cognitively throughout the lifespan. When we looked at some trends based on American Community Survey data, we found that the percentage of individuals within a metro area with advanced degrees and the percentage of individuals within a CBSA pursuing advanced degrees were both strong predictors of the cognitive performance score for that metro area.”
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder