Is Lumosity Just An Intelligence Test?

Is Lumosity Just An Intelligence Test?

Psychology January 15, 2015 / By Dr. Jonathan Wai
Is Lumosity Just An Intelligence Test?

Irony: Brain games don't increase intelligence, but measure intelligence?

Do brain games essentially function as IQ tests?  Research suggests they do.

Data scientist Daniel Sternberg conducted an interesting analysis using Lumosity data.  In his article titled Lumosity’s Smartest Colleges, he analyzed the scores of 89,699 users between the ages of 17 and 25 who attended a college or university and played the game for the very first time.  He then examined the correlations between the median SAT and ACT scores (from the universities they attended) with performance on the aggregate score on Lumosity’s tests, which include the areas of Speed, Attention, Flexibility, Memory, and Problem Solving.  So just like traditional intelligence and IQ tests, Lumosity has different measures of cognitive function.

The correlation between the SAT and Lumosity score (r = .85) and the ACT and Lumosity score (r = .84) were both reasonably high.  Here is the graph:










Researchers Meredith Frey, Douglas Detterman, and Katherine Koenig have demonstrated that both the SAT and ACT essentially measure general intelligence or g to a large degree.  So Lumosity’s games may actually be tapping intelligence.

Sternberg’s conclusions: “The strong correlations between baseline performance on Lumosity games and scores on major national standardized tests, which are used to predict academic outcomes, suggest to us that Lumosity game performance can be related to real world outcomes.”

Perhaps this should not be very surprising, considering what Charles Spearman has called the indifference of the indicator—the idea that specific content of a test is unimportant when identifying g because g enters into the performance on all kinds of tests.  Any cognitive test, therefore, should measure g to some extent.

Of course, a major weakness of using the Lumosity data is that it only assesses those students who have the time and interest in playing their brain games, which is obviously a non-representative sample of each college or university.  However, despite this, the correlations between median SAT and ACT scores of a school and Lumosity scores were remarkably high.

We don’t know for sure whether Lumosity actually improves general intelligence (see Gareth Cook’s Brain Games Are Bogus), but perhaps it functions as an IQ test.  However, I doubt colleges and universities will start using Lumosity scores in place of SAT or ACT scores anytime soon.

© 2015 by Jonathan Wai

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Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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