You'll Never Guess What the Smartest City in America is

Education company Lumosity recently conducted an extensive survey that ranked 478 U.S. cities by "average brain performance score" and found that Ithaca, NY, is the brainiest city in the country.

Following close behind were State College, Pa., and Lafayette, Ind. Do you notice a trend here? As Venture Beat points out, many of the top cities and towns on the list play host to prominent colleges and universities. Ithaca is home to Cornell University and Ithaca College; State College is home to Penn State; and Lafayette is home to Purdue University.


Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This result isn't necessarily surprising, but the reason behind it may go deeper than "people who go to college are smart." As Lumosity's data scientist Daniel Sternberg explained, "Neuroscience research has found that those who are engaged in learning and cognitively stimulating activities throughout the lifetime build up a 'cognitive reserve' that helps maintain and improve cognitive performance."

According to the Lumosity website, the study involved 2,417,530 participants nationwide. It tested their performance across five cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving. Participants ranged from 15 to 85 years old.

Surprisingly, few of the country's largest cities ranked among the top 100 on the list. New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Houston and Chicago didn't make the cut.

Another interesting finding was that the list of the top 100 cities contains a great deal of geographical diversity, implying that intelligence is concentrated in pockets and not necessarily spread out over larger regions.

Spend some time exploring the interactive map of Lumosity's Smartest Cities in America or check out the list below to see if your hometown made the top 100.

1. Ithaca, NY
2. State College, PA
3. Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN
4. Iowa City, IA
5. Ames, IA
6. Ann Arbor, MI
7. Bloomington, IN
8. Madison, WI
9. Lawrence, KS
10. Pullman, WA
11. College Station-Bryan, TX
12. Appleton, WI
13. Champaign-Urbana, IL
14. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA
15. Charlottesville, VA
16. Boulder, CO
17. Provo-Orem, UT
18. Harrisonburg, VA
19. Rolla, MO
20. Houghton, MI
21. Muncie, IN
22. Corvallis, OR
23. Boone, NC
24. Logan, UT-ID
25. Stillwater, OK
26. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
27. Claremont-Lebanon, NH-VT
28. Lebanon, PA
29. Moscow, ID
30. Cedar Rapids, IA
31. Lincoln, NE
32. Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA
33. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
34. Starkville, MS
35. Athens, OH
36. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
37. Brainerd, MN
38. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
39. Fargo, ND-MN
40. Stevens Point, WI
41. Columbia, MO
42. St. Cloud, MN
43. Rochester, MN
44. Auburn-Opelika, AL
45. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA
46. Oil City, PA
47. Fort Collins, CO
48. Sheboygan, WI
49. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
50. Keene, NH
51. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI
52. Burlington, NC
53. Pittsburgh, PA
54. Fond du Lac, WI
55. Concord, NH
56. Morgantown, WV
57. Bellingham, WA
58. Mount Pleasant, MI
59. Ottawa-Peru, IL
60. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN
61. Laramie, WY
62. Barnstable Town, MA
63. Lancaster, PA
64. Reading, PA
65. Winchester, VA-WV
66. Bozeman, MT
67. Bloomington, IL
68 Gainesville, FL
69. Duluth, MN-WI
70. Michigan City-La Porte, IN
71. South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI
72. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
73. Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
74. Oxford, MS
75. Altoona, PA
76. Wooster, OH
77. Bismarck, ND
78. Grand Forks, ND-MN
79. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
80. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
81. Binghamton, NY
82. Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
83. Wisconsin Rapids-Marshfield, WI
84. Ogdensburg-Massena, NY
85. Kansas City, MO-KS
86. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
87. Torrington, CT
88. Trenton, NJ
89. Rochester, NY
90. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
91. Oneonta, NY
92. Eau Claire, WI
93. Warsaw, IN
94. Norwich-New London, CT
95. Eugene, OR
96. Topeka, KS
97. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ
98. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
99. Helena, MT
100. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

Gabe Grand is an editorialist for PolicyMic and a resident of the nation's 382nd smartest city.

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Gabriel Grand

Gabe is a Politics Fellow for PolicyMic and an incoming student at Harvard University. An avid fan of The Daily Show, he enjoys puzzling over the legal and political issues of our time. Gabe prefers to examine both sides of an argument, although as a New Yorker he usually finds it easier to just side with the liberals.

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