Brain Power

America’s Smartest Cities 2012: Denver to Raleigh-Durham (Photos)

From Baltimore to Madison, The Daily Beast finds the cities with the highest level of intellectual acuity.

AP Photo (3); Getty Images (top left)

AP Photo (3); Getty Images (top left)

In the U.S. city edition of the nature-versus-nurture debate, it would appear that nurture has an advantage—cities with a large number of colleges and universities consistently have the “smartest” adult populations. But as our list of the smartest cities this year proves, education is not the only predictive factor in heightened cognitive ability.

To compile the 2012 list of the smartest cities, The Daily Beast first turned to Lumos Labs, the company behind the online “brain gym” Lumosity. With data collected from more than 1 million users as part of its human cognition project, Lumos Labs was able to analyze performance for nearly 200 metro areas in five cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving. The median Lumos Lab score, presented as an estimated IQ score, was worth 50 percent of our final, weighted ranking. The other half of our ranking was based on the percentage of adults over age 25 with a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. While most cities on the list are hubs of higher education, a few of the top-performing metropolises have relatively low levels of higher education. In Lafeyette, Ind., for example, the number of residents older than 25 with college degrees is average, but they had the second-best performance on the cognitive tests, beating out hyper-educated cities like Madison, Wisc., and San Francisco.

Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

25. Baltimore, Md.

Lumosity IQ: 100.5

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 19. 9 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 15.2 percent

Nati Harnik / AP Photo

24. Lincoln, Neb.

Lumosity IQ: 101.0

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 22.1 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 11.5 percent

Jessica Hill / AP Photo

23. Hartford, Conn.

Lumosity IQ: 100.8

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 20.2 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 14.4 percent

Nicholas K. Geranios / AP Photo

22. Missoula, Mont.

Lumosity IQ: 99.8

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 24.7 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 16.0 percent

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

21. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Lumosity IQ: 99.9

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 27.8 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 13.3 percent

Josh Noel, Chicago Tribune / MCT / Getty Images

20. Rochester, Minn.

Lumosity IQ: 101.1

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 22.1 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 13.2 percent

Gabriel Bouys, AFP / Getty Images

19. Seattle, Wash.

Lumosity IQ: 100.8

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 23.9 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 13.1 percent

David Duprey / AP Photo

18. Rochester, N.Y.

Lumosity IQ: 101.5

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 18.5 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 14.4 percent

Marco Garcia / AP Photo

17. Honolulu, Hawaii

Lumosity IQ: 102.0

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 21.2 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 10.7 percent

Daniel Barry / Getty Images

16. Fargo, N.D.

Lumosity IQ: 101.5

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 24 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 11.6 percent

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

15. Denver, Colo.

Lumosity IQ: 101.0

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 25 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 13.2 percent

John Elk / Getty Images

14. Butte, Mont.

Lumosity IQ: 99.9

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 28.2 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 15.3 percent

Kristen Bartlett, University of Florida / AP Photo

13. Gainesville, Fla.

Lumosity IQ: 101.5

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 18.9 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 18.7 percent

Paul Souders / Corbis

12. Anchorage, Alaska

Lumosity IQ: 103.1

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 20.6 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 10.3 percent

Craig Lassig / AP Photo

11. Minneapolis, Minn.

Lumosity IQ: 101.8

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 25.4 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 12.5 percent

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

10. Burlington, Vt.

Lumosity IQ: 101.4

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 25.2 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 14.9 percent

Harry Cabluck / AP Photo

9. Austin, Texas

Lumosity IQ: 101.6

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 25.7 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 13.7 percent

Darron Cummings / AP Photo

8. Lafayette, Ind.

Lumosity IQ: 103.3

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 17.8 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 12.6 percent

David Mercer / AP Photo

7. Champaign, Ill.

Lumosity IQ: 101.8

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 19.9 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 17. 9 percent

Darren McCollester / Getty Images

6. Boston, Mass.

Lumosity IQ: 101.7

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 24.0 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 19.0 percent

Alex Wong / Getty Images

5. Washington, D.C.

Lumosity IQ: 101.1

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 24.5 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 22.3 percent

Jeff Chiu / AP Photo

4. San Francisco, Calif.

Lumosity IQ: 102.1

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 26.5 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 16.8 percent

L.G. Patterson / AP Photo

3. Columbia, Mo.

Lumosity IQ: 101.3

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 28.4 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 20.6 percent

Barbara Rodriguez / AP Photo

2. Madison, Wisc.

Lumosity IQ: 102.7

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 26.0 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 17.3 percent

Jay Paul, The Washington Post / Getty Images

1. Charlottesville, Va.

Lumosity IQ: 103.4

Residents Over Age 25 with a Bachelor’s Degree: 22.9 percent

Residents Over Age 25 with a Graduate Degree: 19.3 percent