Do you know Lumosity? They are the #1 brain training program on the planet, and have the world’s largest and fastest growing database on human cognition — which currently includes more than 45 million users. Lumosity focuses on areas such as attention, memory, flexibility, speed, and problem solving to improve people’s lives.

Two areas that have particularly attracted Rexi Media to Lumosity are attention and memory. Rexi Media coaches business presenters on how to deliver memorable presentations, and we’ve treated the word “memorable” scientifically. We’ve asked: What makes for a truly memorable presentation? How much do people remember from a business presentation over time, and why does this matter? We recently had the opportunity to sit with Dr. Joe Hardy, VP of R&D at Lumosity, and hear his thoughts about memory as it applies to presentations and business professionals.

Q: Are there any trends you are seeing regarding memory that could be affecting business professionals performance?

Dr. Hardy: As part of the Human Cognition Project, Lumosity researchers conducted a study using its database of human cognitive performance – the largest in the world – that looked at peaks in cognitive performance at different times of the day. On average, people perform better at working memory and attention tasks in the morning, and creative tasks, such as math and verbal fluency, later in the day. These findings are consistent with the existing literature that has found that creativity and focus rely on opposite brain functions; morning people tend to perform better on creative tasks during their non-peak hours later in the day, and night people tend to perform better on creative tasks earlier in the day. These results could have implications for the optimal time to perform certain tasks. For instance, if your job relies on creativity, and you are a morning person, you might be able to perform work-related tasks better during the afternoon hours.

Another study from the Human Cognition Project published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, examined the effects of sleep and alcohol consumption on cognitive abilities, including speed, memory, and flexibility. The study found that cognitive performance in all three tasks was most efficient, on average, for users reporting seven hours of sleep each night. The study also found that low to moderate alcohol intake – a self-reported one or two drinks per day – was associated with better performance in all three tasks, with brain performance scores decreasing steadily with every additional drink.

Q: What has surprised you the most about memory research in the past 5 years?

Dr. Hardy: The field of cognitive training is based on the science of neuroplasticity, and has grown enormously over the past five years. It’s been surprising and encouraging to learn how plastic the brain remains, even as we age. Research has found that those who are engaged in learning and cognitive stimulating activities throughout the lifetime build up a “cognitive reserve” that helps maintain and improve cognitive performance.

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