If you’ve ever been curious to measure your brain’s performance in regards to memory, attention, speed, and problem solving, but never quite knew how to go about doing that, then you might want to check out the services offered by website and smart phone app Lumosity, specifically, their mental measurement metric referred to as the Brain Performance Index, or BPI. The BPI is specific to Lumosity, and not only measures how someone performs in certain areas of intelligence, but also tracks any improvements made in these areas, as well as compares these figures to those of other users.
While there is some debate as to the legitimacy of the BPI, it is a good measurement of how users of this site stack up against each other. While you may not be winning any awards for having a good BPI, it may prove comforting to the competitive intellectuals in the world. If you’re looking for a more legitimate measure of intelligence, you may want to take an actual IQ test, and this course on test taking may help to add a few points to your score.
How the Brain Performance Index Works
Because the BPI is a proprietary measurement, used only by Lumosity, it is protected information, and therefore, there isn’t a lot out there about exactly how it works, but the parameters it measures are well-known. The BPI is an aggregate measurement of how the user performs in several areas. Not only does the BPI measure these performances, it also compares them to those of other users in order to place them in a percentile.
Being that BPI is an overall assessment of a user’s performance, it’s necessary to further break down where the BPI gets its figures from. A user’s BPI is made up of the Brain Profile. The Brain Profile shows how well a user performed in each of the specific domains measured by Lumosity, which are:
- Memory (This course on improving memory will boost your brain power.)
- Problem Solving (This course on problem solving and this article on training your brain effectively will help you tackle problems critically.)
Not only does the Brain Profile quantify these performances, it also shows where the user falls in relation to other similar users, showing a percentile graph to fully illustrate where they stand.
One attraction of the BPI is not only for users to see how they stack up against people across the globe, but also to track their own performance. A big drawing point of Lumosity is to improve your mental capacity, specifically in the areas mentioned above. The BPI allows the user to see how much better or worse they are performing, not only in these specific areas, but overall, as well. Those at the site claim that, on average, users with about 1,000 games under their belts see an improvement in their BPIs, with this figure doubling, and their percentile ranking tripling.
Pros and Cons
Someone putting too much stock into their Brain Performance Index might give them a bit of an inflated ego, but it’s not going to ruin anyone’s life anytime soon. However, the BPI may not be as accurate as it claims, and users may not be experiencing as much increased brain capacity as reported. Below are the good and the bad of the BPI and its side effects.
- Exercising the brain is always good. Even if the rankings of the BPI and other metrics offered by Lumosity do not interest you, or you think they may be biased in some way, the bottom line is, you are challenging yourself and improving your brain’s performance. If competitiveness is what gets you to sharpen your skills, then so be it.
- It’s fun! No matter the legitimacy of the claims being made, the BPI is calculated by playing games and improving your mental performance, and both of those are positive.
- Mental improvements may be overstated. As you can imagine, Lumosity paints an impossibly bright picture of how much smarter a user is getting when using their product, and in such a short amount of time. Some claim that the effects seen by users are less a seismic increase of mental capacity, and more of a “shifting of the goalposts”, with the measurements claimed by the site being false, or inaccurate.
- It’s a business. Even though it’s fun and helpful, what it all boils down to is that the creators of this site want to make a profit. Thought the site offers a lot of basic free services, their aim is to get more pay customers. Any true measure of intelligence should not be concerned about sales as much as their true purpose.
Alternatives to the BPI
If you wish to have your intelligence measured outside of the confines of the Brain Performance Index, there are many other tests available to the armchair intellectual. Whether you’re just curious to know exactly how smart you are, you want to flaunt your (hopefully) high number, or both, there are several options out there for you to quantify your intelligence.
- Wechler Intelligence Scale This is the most commonly used IQ test out there, and has a test tailored to adults, and one to school-age children.
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale This test measures intelligence, as well as cognitive ability, and is also used to diagnose developmental deficiencies in young children.
- Woodcock-Johnson Tests Issued to both children and adults, this test measures just cognitive ability, and covers a wide range of skills.
While the BPI may be a decent measurement of your mental capabilities, you shouldn’t put too much stock into the hard numbers that they give you. Taking the tests may be fun and challenging, but you should also remember that at the end of the day, they are trying to make money, and your intelligence may not be their greatest concern. If you want to maximize your brain’s potential, this course on whole brain thinking will get you started.