What is it?
Lumosity is a brain-training program with more than 50 games designed by neuroscientists to improve cognitive skills by practicing them over and over again with games. Lumosity games are derivations of tasks commonly used in cognitive psychology, such as the Eriksen flanker task and Corsi block-tapping test. It is available online at Lumosity.com, or on a phone or tablet via the Lumosity app.
How does Lumosity work?
First, users take a Fit Test to set a baseline score on three central games and to see how they compare to others in their age group.
Then Lumosity creates a personalized training program of games designed to challenge each user in the five core areas of their highest-priority cognitive abilities. The app can target a large variety of skills including ADHD trouble-spots like memory, attention, and problem solving. Other skills include flexibility, speed, and language.
One memory game is Tidal Treasures. Players see items in a tide pool, tap one item, and must remember their choice. When the screen refreshes with more items, the user must select a new item that was not previously chosen.
Lumosity evaluates brain “fitness,” and dynamically updates the difficulty of each player’s games as she succeeds or fails on certain tasks so that she is always challenged, but never too frustrated. Users can review scores to see where they performed best and worst.
Who is Lumosity for?
Lumosity is marketed for the general public, but it is not designed for children under 13.
Lumosity does not recommend the program to prevent or treat any medical condition in particular.
How much does it cost?
A basic membership with limited access to games is free. To unlock access to the entire suite of games and features, users can purchase an auto-renewed Lumosity Premium membership for $59.99 a year, or $11.99 each month.
What studies have been done on Lumosity?
One large, randomized, controlled study, funded by Lumos Labs, found greater cognitive functioning improvements in participants who used Lumosity for at least 15 minutes, 5 times a week, for 10 weeks when compared to a control group. Five of the seven authors are employees of Lumosity. While this does not invalidate the results, it does mean they would likely benefit by reporting positive results.
A study, published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, examined more than 130 existing studies on the efficacy of brain training. It found that much of the positive evidence Lumosity references on its website comprises non-peer-reviewed studies, which do not adequately prove the company’s claims.
“It is not that people do not improve — they do, but only at playing the particular game,” said Russell Barkley, Ph.D., in a Facebook post commenting on the study. “There is little or no generalization to natural settings or to larger cognitive domains, such as working memory, that are supposed to be improved from practicing specific cognitive training games.”
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Lumos Labs with “deceptive advertising” in January 2016. It alleged that claims made on the Lumosity website about the program’s ability to off cognitive decline, memory loss, or dementia were not sufficiently proven with randomized, controlled tests. Lumosity settled the case by paying a $2 million fine.
Where can I learn more?
Learn more at www.lumosity.com.
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