Before choosing the first three built-in lifestyle factors, we performed a comprehensive analysis of how lifestyle affects cognitive performance. We came up with a list of potential variables to include. It was long—though perhaps not as long as you'd think (see Appendix, below). Three lifestyle factors came out on top for including in BrainLabs.
We wanted to make sure that journal entries are:
- Strongly and consistently linked with cognition in the scientific literature.
- Variable over time—they will have days when they are high, and days when they are low.
- Trackable by almost everybody, every day, accurately and without special equipment.
- Linked with each other for more complex analyses.
Physical activity, sleep, and stress best fit these criteria. Each of them affects cognition, alone and in combination with each other, as they vary over time. Plus, they are easy to track quite accurately every day, even if you do not enter them right away and have to rely on your memory.
We will be expanding the lifestyle tracking capabilities of BrainLabs over time. If you have suggestions for other types of journal entries, we'd love to hear from you.
Appendix: Other Journal Entry Types We Considered
Here are some of the other variables we considered including with our lifestyle tracking functionality.
- Diet and specific foods/herbs
- Menstruation and pregnancy
- Social interaction
- Video games and brain training
Drugs and supplements, such as:
Individual differences, such as:
- Number of children or pets
- Employment type, duration, and work schedule
- Health (mental and physical)
- Sex or gender
- Socioeconomic status