Information

What does Lumosity's Flexibility measure?

What does Lumosity's Flexibility measure?


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

One of the Lumosity BPI measurements is termed Flexibility. What is this measuring?


I believe they are attempting to measure Cognitive Flexibility (there is a citation linking to Lumosity at the very end of the article).

From the Wiki article:

Cognitive flexibility has been described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously…

Other terms for cognitive flexibility include mental flexibility, shifting, mental set or cognitive shifting, task switching/shifting, and attention switching/shifting…

Most commonly, cognitive flexibility refers to the mental ability to adjust thinking or attention in response to changing goals and/or environmental stimuli…

Lastly, the ability to simultaneously consider two aspects of an object, idea, or situation at one point in time refers to cognitive flexibility. According to this definition, when sorting cards based on specific rules, children are considered cognitively flexible rules if they can sort cards based on the color of the objects and type of objects on the card simultaneously. Similarly, cognitive flexibility has been defined as having the understanding and awareness of all possible options and alternatives simultaneously within any given situation.

I hope that helps!


The Hexaflex as a Dynamic Therapy Tool

The Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis and the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure are both relatively new iterations of the Hexaflex that have exciting applications for ACT clinicians. Let’s take a look at them…

Since I first saw it, I have found the Hexaflex to be a great visual tool for mentally conceptualizing where a client might be struggling in therapy. The original idea for using the hexaflex as a diagnostic and case formulation tool was presented by Kelly Wilson in a plenary talk he gave on the Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis he has developed as an alternative to our current creaky syndromal classification system embodied by the DSM-IV. That talk was last summer at the ACT Summer Institute III. Back in May at the Summer Institute IV, Kelly expanded on the diagnostic system in a two-day pre-conference workshop I was lucky enough to attend. It also looks like there will be more from Kelly Wilson on this diagnostic approach in his forthcoming book The Heart of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis has been and will be written about in other places, so let me spend some time looking at the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure. It was developed by David Chantry, editor of the excellent resource Talking ACT. Without having used it with clients yet, what’s exciting to me about this measure is the fact that it makes the Hexaflex even that much more useful. Rather than a static chart, the ACT ADVISOR makes the hexaflex a dynamic, manipulable tool for charting progress. It’s a living document now–like the Constitution!

I also like the elegant symplicity of its format, and how easy all the anchor statements are for everyone to understand. The measure also comes with a chart for clinicians to use in tracking a client’s scores over time, adding up to a cumulative score for psychological flexibility. I like measures that keep ACT clincians’ eyes on the prize of enhanced psychological flexibility.

The two uncertainties I would have in using the measure were actually anticipated by David Chantry when he discussed it in an ACT listserve post. He noted that the design makes it pretty obvious that higher scores are ‘better’ to get, hence introducing possible response bias (pliance). He also said the design of the measure reveals the entirety of the ACT model, which might or might not be beneficial at some junctures in therapy. Clients could find it helpful to see where interventions are leading, but on the other hand it could also be at odds with ACT’s emphasis on experiential rather than intellectual learning. These cautions don’t apply for the Hexaflex dimensional diagnosis form since it is only seen and used by clincians.

Well, I hope ACT therapists out there will follow these links and give both the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure and the impressive Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis a thorough trial run in your clinical work–and provide the developers with helpful feedback if you have any. (Note: You will have to be an ACBS member with a login to access these.)

You can really see the evolution of an idea–the hexaflex–looking at these two documents. And I don’t think this will by any means be the last time we will see the hexaflex used in interesting and dynamic ways in clincial work. Steven Hayes has also been active in re-imagining the hexaflex. In one workshop he displayed two hexaflexes facing each other with lines connecting them to represent the intricate parallel processes in therpay between client and therapist. And in his plenary at the Summer Institute IV, he overlayed a new image onto the hexaflex: a turtle. Stay tuned for more fascinating uses and re-envisionings of the good ol’ hexaflex.


How Luminous Is The Lumosity Performance Index?

The Lumosity Performance Index (LPI) is the proprietary scale of the online brain training and research company ‘Lumosity.’ It constitutes: the game LPI, the area LPI, and the overall LPI. The overall LPI is directly averaged from all game LPIs in the five separate cognitive areas: (1) Speed Processing, (2) Memory, (3) Attention, (4) Flexibility, and (5) Problem Solving. Each area LPI is averaged from the relevant game LPIs. Each game LPI is (re)calculated every time you play the game, giving you the malleability to move upward, and ultimately, increase your overall LPI. For this reason, I believe its test-retest reliability is inherently contradicted, complicating further psychometric research into any use of LPI as a cognitive assessment — unlike their new Brain Performance Test (BPT) to study training-related changes. The daily registration of mood and sleep patterns prior to training, could potentially be the only bright side of its test-retest reliability, as these factors are said to affect performance. This is provoking since the games are developed from actual neuropsychological tests:

Over the past year, I did regularly play (for fun) the free version — with restrictions on daily use along with limited games and basic features. Given these conditions, the LPI that I generated also cannot be comparable to that of the full version. What other consistency could we — prima facie — observe? Luckily, the website provides a brief look into its measurement scale a glance at how internal consistency could be analyzed. For example:

Why the scrutiny? The LPI was formerly known as the Brain Performance Index (BPI). The algorithm along with marketing of the scale drastically changed last year. The reason Lumosity briefly gives is unsatisfying. Immediately, I suspected that at least part of the reason had to do with the liability issue of claiming a “Brain” Performance Index without rigorous empirical research supporting its reliability and validity. This is given the fact that they claim an assessment of your cognitive abilities, and that using the service will improve your score — only recently have they switched to LPI and implemented the separate BPT. The company still displays research showing improvements. But, it’s not about the fact that Lumosity doesn’t work, but how significant is this commercial product relative to brain training of any other kind. To date, efficacy research has shown mixed results.


Comments

There are lots of ways to improve brain power line dancing and bridge are two that work.

and of course some Big Pharma Pills.

You obviously have functioned well in life. You're selfish in allowing others to improve themselves from something that does work. Go play your cards and line dancing, your real swift and clearly do not know what you are talking about, probably because you are close minded to possibilities and for solutions. If you are not going to be part of the solution that can help people improve themselves, I suggest you keep quiet. Because you do not how others are functioning on day to day basis. You obviously have not struggled yourself. Shame on you.

I find it sad that your writing coveys such judgement and "shame" for those holding alternate opinions. I can tell you from my own experience, that kind of stress in it self can cause memory/cognitive issues.

Line dancing, much like any other dancing, has been proven to utilize all parts of the brain, thus strengthening it. Same goes for playing an instrument.

Another scam -- at least of an intellectual nature

Thanks, that's help a lot in this world where everyone is behind us hunting our money

What about people who didn't re-up but still fell for the fraudulent claim and paid for a year? Is there any way to recoup any of the original membership fee?

The terms of the settlement apply to people who signed up for Lumosity before January 1, 2015, and are on an auto-renewal plan. If you are in that group, you should get a notice from Lumosity that gives you a one-click option to cancel your subscription.

So, my understanding is that neither Lumosity's 2 million dollars (a small sum, I might add) nor the 50 million dollars that is "suspended" is not going to those of us who were duped? Again, it goes to the lawyers, the FTC, but not to the little guy who got cheated? Why am I feeling. cheated?

Keep in mind that no one has found evidence that it Doesn't work, they are just saying that the company didn't have enough evidence that it Does work. They have been doing some research, and it may well be that the activities they have do have some impact on general cognitive function. Their claims are certainly a lot less predatory than a lot of things--say the average dietary supplement or homeopathic "medicine".

Honestly, it is hard for me to believe that anything that forces you to focus/think couldn't have a negative affect. Kind of like how lifting some weight gains you some strength at the gym. If anything, at least these are games that are intended to help you—not just entertain you. I think something that forces you to focus is a good thing in a less demanding regard. I don't think I'd pay for it, but I don't pay for a lot of things..

I am smart to read your website. Thank You

Job well done FTC. I knew they were just preying on good people who feared the aging process would be 'fixed or delayed' by playing for games we paid for. I didn't buy it one bit.

Don't feel so good. Lumocity changed my life for the much better. They never gave me anything to say something good. Too bad the government didn't interview people that actually pushed their brains, to see what happened to them. Why did my friends that also used it, get positive life results.

I wouldn't call it 'preying on people' if they provide a product that consumers find useful. And especially as it's less than $3 a month. Well worth it to me, so I will keep my membership.

As for people's fears about dementia, they're right to fear it. Doctors still don't know how to prevent it, and most of the drugs on the market have only modest effectiveness, yet they're approved and continue to be prescribed.

My only complaint with Luminosity is the lack of transparency and customer service - I am skeptical when there isn't an 800 number to call or a way to easily chat with a company. Sometimes I've gotten a nonsensical answer to a question that seemed like it came from a bot. Though my last inquiry was answered by a real person, and was helpful.

I have found Lumosity to be fun and I see improvements in remembering peoples names. Maybe it doesn't do all they say but I don't think it's a scam. I hope the settlement doesn't cause them to stop doing the research.

This action against Lumosity did not go far enough. All of your reports say only that FTC "alleged" that their was misleading advertising, when it should have been that Lumosity acknowledged such distortions. There is no explanation why the original fine that reflected the seriousness of their offenses, was reduced so dramatically. Unless this is fully explained including the financial status of the company, there will be a shadow over this entire investigation.

Follow the link in this blog post to the press release, which includes this sentence: "The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission." Additional information is available in the Related Cases tab on the press release page.

SO let's get this straight. they pay the FTC a $2 million fine for doing the work you are supposed to do, then suspend the $50 million fine that would go to the people they scammed so that they won't go out of business. PERFECTLY logical. great job FTC! Keep patting yourself on the back.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling this snake oil what it is, and holding them accountable. Science for the win!

Let me get this right. for the suckers who signed up, they are left hanging. No recourse, no refunds. They can cancel, but they are out any $ they put into this. But that's OK, the government will collect their $2 million. So much for protecting the consumer.

You can read the related press release for more information about the matter.

Under the proposed settlement, people who signed up for Lumosity before January 1, 2015 and are on an auto-renewal plan will get a one-click option to cancel their subscription and avoid future billing.

The proposed order imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission. The proposed final judgment and order, available here, outlines how the $2 million may be used.

As usual very enlighting and benefitial information. Thanks!

I understand but do not agree with this! I don't see where they have done anything wrong. If you go running. it increases your heart rate promoting ones health. If you do sit ups. it works your abs reducing stomach fat. If you do puzzles and brain teasers. it exercises the brain promoting it's function. Kind of seems like common sense to me but I know many people lack this creating another useless action against a company. I would protest this cause I believe in luminosity and believe it does help. I had epilepsy and suffered many effects with memory and brain function. it has helped me cause anything that works my brain and makes me think increases it's overall function!

Jenny: I have a differing point of view. I also have epilepsy since I was born placenta previa. I get very few games that exercise my flexibility and memory. This is disconcerting because that is what I signed up for. In talking with someone at Lumosity, I got double talk. Bridge and exercise can really help. Exercise really, really helps.

I agree with Jenny here. I've used it for a couple of years and find my short-term memory far more effective than before. Phone numbers, names, addresses can all be retained better. That's real world. The games are challenging and fun. I exercise a lot and this is part of my effective wellness regimen.

I agree with Jenny on this matter. When we use our brains we are building connections. By challenging our minds those connections get stronger. If you are to meet someone new and learn their name, you have increased your brains capacity. This is one example of how Lumosity can help. Of course there are many other ways to improve brain function, that's fine too. I for one am more sceptical of the legal system that has prosicuted them. Using a fear tactic to say that what Lumosity claims does not work. I understand the checks and balances aspect. However I for one would rather see the money spent on researching the data that Lomosty has compiled. In the name of science let's step forward and come up with some peer reviewed articles that are sent to all involved in this study of brain activity.

Just to be clear, if I an understanding this correctly, the issue is that Lumosity made claims that they could not back up with solid science. This does not necessarily mean that the games and similar activities have no positive impact. It means that they overstated the case. Is this accurate?

You'll find more detail in this press release about the matter, which says that the creators and marketers of the Lumosity “brain training” program agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges. The FTC alleged that the creators and markters deceived consumers with unfounded claims that Lumosity games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.

As part of the settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, will pay $2 million in redress, notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing.

Yes you keep saying this, but the bottom line FTC is you screwed the company, screwed the little guy and robbed everyone involved. Lets run a lawsuit on the FTC for "unfounded claims" that your here to help. How's your track record on honesty and transparency? "2 million in redress" soooo to your account? is that what "redress" means in this? cause it sure doesnt mean "to those who were scammed, does it? Let me guess, theres a press release legaleasing why you get to keep the money right?

Please visit the FTC’s Lumosity Refunds page for more information. The deadline to file a claim is tomorrow, August 6, 2016.

Thanks so much for protecting us! It's good to know that sometimes the government is doing all they can to protect us from companies that just want our money. Sometimes I feel like the government isn't doing that.

Protecting us by the FTC collecting $2M because a company didn't have enough research to substantiate their claims? Quit being a sheep the government isn't protecting anyone but themselves.

When do they have to notify customers by?

The details and timing of the notice are included in the proposed stipulated order, available from this page about the proceedings.

How do I apply for my money I paid for a year of lumosity ,and it didn't help.

Under the proposed settlement with the FTC, the company will tell subscribers about the FTC action and give them an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing. If you are a subscriber with an auto-renewal, you will get a notice.

If you want a refund for a product, you can use these tips about solving consumer problems. If a product or service doesn't live up to your expectations, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

I find your comments irresponsible. I think that most people know that by exercising your brain through learning and challenging it through various games, etc, is good for the development of your brain and definitely leads to having higher brain capacity, etc. So sites like Luminosity are a service in that way. Stop the unnecessary bashing if Legitimate sites and potentially stopping a person from getting help in the further development of their brain. Thank you

Bridget Small must be a robot, as she only replies with the same paragraphs or very similiar over and over and doesn't answer specific questions.

Very good Lynn I agree with you about Smalls' continued repitition. I have used lumosity and it seems to assist me irregardless of proven scientific evidence. a few points: 1) Lumosity lacks scientific backing but is effective for wellness at a minimal cost - a good long-term return investment . 2) To use payed personnel in advertising is legitimate irregardless of said payment methods, so the goverment/FTC claim of "misleading comsumers" should not have held in court. 3) While there is a $50 million suspended fine, why does the FTC/government get "a bonus" of $2 million for doing its assigned duty to the consumer? I believe that money should be part of a government/FTC consumer redress reimbursement scheme for Lumosity customers who desire such redress.
Finally, the government/FTC in this instance has once again solidified a double standard under the guise of protecting the public/comsumers with aide of legislations/laws, and its legal tenacles in every available arena from predatory practioners . As a American consumer amongst the masses, I wonder about our the protection from pharmaceutical companies of these lecit drugs that continue to damage our mind and body? Just the one example, too many for this blog and ranting is insolvent. Consumers protect yourselves. Do not subcribe to anything, but continuosly be skeptical of everything. You are your brothers keeper. The government is not your friend, just an institution like any other institution consumed with self interest, except this one's legitimized by "the people". If only Lumosity was a "big lobby" the government/FTC would know its place in handling this situation, right Bridget?

I do not like Auto renewal however, send me the notice it is due and I will choose to renew or not. I see nothing wrong with paying for a service. I had a stroke and had trouble doing any kind of paperwork. Lumosity has helped me toward normal thinking and the challenges I face daily.

Perhaps they made unsubstantiated claims - but that doesn't mean the games have no value. I've used Lumosity for several years and HAVE seen a benefit. I'd always read that keeping busy mentally is good for older people. Articles on aging suggested activities like crossword puzzles and game shows. Has this thinking all been discarded recently?

I'd also heard that taking on new, challenging tasks - such as learning a new language or computer system, or running an intense work or volunteer program that required problem-solving skills - could stimulate the brain to develop new connections. Has that been disproved as well? I'm not defending these guys, I don't know them from Adam but it's common sense that using your mind and getting physical exercise (instead of sitting on your butt in front of the TV and eating) help most people stay alert longer.

I find it curious that the government goes after something like Luminosity, yet the FDA lets Premarin remain on the market. a hormone substitute that is KNOWN to cause uterine and ovarian cancer. Known. It killed my mother. It ought to be banned and the executives at Pfizer put in prison.

I'm with OldCodger-- perhaps Lumosity got greedy and overstated claims, but I have been following the science regarding brain plasticity and it all points to the positive effects of novelty, risk and challenge, continuous use of the brain in the "zone of proximity" of learning. I consider myself a savvy consumer and quite skeptical, so I did my own research before signing up for Lumosity. As I read the notice Lumosity was required to send, and then the FTC site's summary of the charges and settlement, I couldn't help wondering the same thing you did, OldCodger, about all the MANY HORRIBLE products and their claims put out by Big Pharma, not to mention cars, cosmetics, home products, toys, etc. that are actively toxic, maiming and killing people. And they, FTC, rake in the millions (who gets that money?) from a company that provides progressive brain stimulation that has, at the very least, positive benefits for the people who use it. I can only imagine the outrage you must feel having had your own mother die due to the use of one such product, OldCodger.

I never believed that Lumosity could help prevent age-related cognitive issues, except the way other things I do (play Sudoku, exercise, memorize songs) help. I do enjoy the games, though. What I like, though, is being able to compare how I am doing against other people my age. I do not know how the scoring is done, but I have to assume that it is internally accurate (that is, they set up a scoring system for all their games and for different ages, and apply them consistently).


Spectral Luminosity

In most cases, luminosity is meant to relate how much energy is being emitted by an object in all the forms of light it radiates (visual, infrared, x-ray, etc.). Luminosity is the term that we apply to all wavelengths, regardless of where they lie on the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers study the different wavelengths of light from celestial objects by taking the incoming light and using a spectrometer or spectroscope to "break" the light into its component wavelengths. This method is called "spectroscopy" and it gives great insight into the processes that make objects shine.

Each celestial object is bright in specific wavelengths of light for example, neutron stars are typically very bright in the x-ray and radio bands (though not always some are brightest in gamma-rays). These objects are said to have high x-ray and radio luminosities. They often have very low optical luminosities.

Stars radiate in very broad sets of wavelengths, from the visible to infrared and ultraviolet some very energetic stars are also bright in radio and x-rays. The central black holes of galaxies lie in regions that give off tremendous amounts of x-rays, gamma-rays, and radio frequencies, but may look fairly dim in visible light. The heated clouds of gas and dust where stars are born can be very bright in the infrared and visible light. The newborns themselves are quite bright in the ultraviolet and visible light.


What Is Lumosity?

Lumosity is basically an online brain-training program, which consists of games to help in the improvement of flexibility, memory, attention span, the speed of processing information, quick problem-solving, and decision-making techniques. Lumos Labs was founded in the year 2005 by David Drescher, Kunal Sarkar, and Michael Scanlon.

They launched their website called “lumosity.com” in the year 2007. By January 2015, they had at least 70 million members who took part of the online games. It is believed that Lumos Labs helps keep the brains of people challenged through simple online tools, which would allow anyone to get trained on their core cognitive abilities. There are many diverse disciplines, which combine neuroscience and visual art. Brain training programs such as Lumosity keeps the brain engaged to improve cognitive abilities.

The Worrying Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia

Team

Today, Lumosity has been used by over 90 million people across the world. It offers a wide range of brain-training programs, which consists of more than 30 brain games. Lumosity is a team of game designers and scientists, who explore and create new ways to challenge the brain and push cognitive research forward.

Scientists at Lumos Labs take the common cognitive and neuropsychological tasks and design entirely new tasks or challenges. The designers transform these tasks developed by the scientists into fun games that can challenge an individual's core cognitive skills. Lumos Labs also works with various universities worldwide. They provide qualified researchers almost free access to the training tools of Lumosity to help them investigate newer areas of cognition.

Lumosity Mobile Application

The mobile application has daily workouts, which are drawn from around more than 30 games that challenge five core cognitive abilities. Each workout mode has carefully curated a set of games, which use the individual's training habits and preferences to target various ways in brain training.

The mobile application is available in English, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and German languages. English is the default language for devices that support other languages. You can also change the language of the app by carrying out certain changes in the settings of the device.

Do these brain-training games really work?

First, let's ask what are these new age brain games setting in for? Does brain-training really work in the real world? Lumosity and few other brain-training online games are mostly built on the platform of psychological tests. These tests are used to determine how the inner workings of the mind work. Other games such as the N-back test is designed to measure working memory and capacity. The Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT) is carried out to measure cognitive flexibility and selective attention.

Psychological tests do not offer a comprehensive coverage of the intelligence or the capabilities of the brain. This area is something that is not completely understood yet. The point of carrying out or going through the games offered by Lumosity is to improve the overall IQ of an individual. However, there is still no clear correlation between them.

There is a level of self-confidence attached while carrying out the tests. It has a placebo effect, wherein one believes that by carrying out the tests and also getting better in them would lead to an improvement in the quality of life and overall brain development of an individual.

There is still research going on in this area, particularly about the exact intention of the test and the serious effects it would have on the capabilities of the brain including the alteration of the intention in a meaningful method. While Lumosity may not lead to a direct impact, but somewhere, it can indirectly make a lot of difference if one needs that boost in their self-confidence.

There have been certain reviews, which confirm that brain cognitive training tends to work by carrying out these online games. Certain people have benefitted in a way wherein brain fog has decreased. It has also led to an increase in brain power such as improved memory and focus. However, the effects also differ from person-to-person since it involves other factors such as maintaining healthy habits, personality, outlook, awareness, and genetics.

A person who is a non-negative thinker would see that there are a lot of potential or benefits along with motivation of scores as the games progress. Our brain can be described as a muscle, therefore training provided to the muscle would help in the longevity and increases the effectiveness of the brain as similar to the rest of the body. If you feed your brain with motivation, good perspective, nutrients, and essential exercises, then it would surely perform much better over time.

Lumosity Website

To gain access to their online brain games, you need to sign up and provide some basic information such as gender, academic studies, current profession, and how you heard about Lumosity. Apart from these details, other basic questions include how often you exercise, the time of the day when you are most productive, the devices that you will use for the Lumosity training program, and how long you sleep at night.

Once the above basic questions are answered, they would lead you to the next step, wherein they would take your fit test in terms of flexibility, attention span, memory, and results. Each of these fit test levels would have games to understand an individual's brain fitness.

Lumosity Games

The cognitive training program of Lumos Labs contains a number of online brain games, wherein each game is divided into categories of Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, and Problem-Solving. Not all of the games would be available to every user. To gain complete access, you must avail their special packages with paid registration. You can register for monthly, yearly, or it can be a one-time lifetime payment. By choosing any of these subscriptions, you can enjoy the full training program with unlocked games.

There is also an intelligent recommendation generated for workouts. The Lumosity algorithm is known to generate various sets of workouts based on the individual’s preferences and training habits. This can be decided based on the questions asked in the program or one would need to go through certain gaming sessions. There are insight reports, which are tailored to provide a deeper understanding of what the training is all about and the levels of achievement.

There are over fifty cognitive games provided by Lumosity. These games have a variety of challenges, which are designed by scientists and game designers to adapt to one’s experiences and skills. There are also tools provided by the website that would help track the progress of the training. It keeps a track of all the scores to see how one has performed in comparison with others and the changes made over a period of time. For those with paid registrations, they would be allowed to access new features or games created by Lumosity along with providing experimental tools.

Below is the list of online brain games, which are available in various cognitive training sessions:


What does Lumosity's Flexibility measure? - Psychology

What people are learning: 35+ mini-games designed to improve general brain function in the areas of memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem-solving, although not all games are of equal caliber or likeliness to improve any cognitive function.

So-called "brain games" have become big business since the break-out success of the Brain Age series first released on the Nintendo DS in 2006. The idea that 20 minutes a day with a casual game could have wide-ranging effects, from small benefits like making a person better at remembering names, to huge consequences, like helping to stave off dementia in the elderly, is promise that we would all like to see realized. And it's not an unrealistic promise. We know that games possess the potential to exploit the brain's natural plasticity and to both alter and improve cognitive functioning in some very modest sense. Board games like chess, go, and mancala, which all have histories dating back hundreds if not thousands of years, have been scientifically scrutinized in the modern age and proven to have some positive effects on skilled players' memory, problem-solving, and resistance to age-related mental decline. And many video games, even of the non-educational variety like the fantasy role-playing behemoth World of Warcraft, have been shown through scientific studies to provide cognitive benefits

Hence the very idea of games having positive cognitive effects is already a matter of science fact, not just science fiction. But for all of the many video game developers who have jumped on the this recent brain-game bandwagon, none have been able to show that their particular games offer real, scientifically validated cognitive effects. Lumosity, however, wants to be different. Lumosity has entered the fray with considerably more neuroscience under its belt than most of its competitors. One of the company’s three founders is neuroscientist Michael Scanlon, a Stanford Ph.D., and Lumosity prominently proclaims partnership with such reputable and prestigious research institutes as Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, and Columbia University on their website. Moreover, Lumosity claims that its games are "clinically proven exercises" that can improve players' memory and attention, and they offer "challenges and tasks shown in experiments to produce significant improvements in cognitive performance." But is Lumosity really different from any other casual brain training games, or are they simply better at mobilizing vague scientific promises in their marketing campaign? It is clear that Lumosity seems poised to become one of the next leading purveyors of "brain games," and they've invested heavily in marketing themselves as such. So with the self-hype working in overdrive, I decided to put Lumosity to the test and see if these games could really deliver.


The Training Experience: Lifelong Health or Lifelong Research Subject?

Pick a training program to suit your needs, but not if you're under 18.
Before getting into the details of the games themselves, it's worth noting that Lumosity is selling more than just a few casual web-games. Lumosity.com is a website that offers something more akin to a whole fitness/training program: multi-week training courses, performance-tracking, social-networking, the ability to compare results with other users. First time users are asked what areas of cognition they want to improve and Lumosity chooses a training program that best suits those needs. Of course, few of the choices seem likely to be left unselected. Who doesn't want to be better at "keeping track of several ideas at the same time" or "concentrating while learning something new?" But it is certainly possible for members to want to emphasize improving memory over calculating figures or being faster at decision-making.

As users progress in their training programs and play more games on the site, various measurement rubrics are applied to the results of their performance. Some of these are as simple as tracking your high scores in each game, which allows players to easily see when their performance improves at a particular game. Other measures of performance are more obscure, however. For example, Lumosity has invented a measure called a Brain Performance Index, or BPI. This is supposedly "a clinically designed measure" of cognitive performance that uses and undisclosed proprietary algorithm to translate game scores into some indication of cognitive function. There are also newly added "Assessment" tests, which assign scores based on performance, but gives absolutely no interpretation of those scores. Another was of measuring brain-power is the "brain Grade" test, which seemed like a thinly veiled means of collecting player data about personal lifestyle habits and other demographic information.

All of the various test and measurements can be overwhelming, especially as some seem decidedly more arbitrary than others, but the idea of regularly measuring your fitness fits in with the overall image that's promoted by the Lumosity site: these exercises are contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Nearly every page of the site contains health "tips" that encourage users to train their brains and train them often. "Did you know?" the site asks rhetorically before each tip. "Did you know? The ACTIVE study, funded by the NIH and involving 2832 adults, found that some benefits of cognitive training can last over five years after the initial training." The implication here is clear: train with Lumosity for life-long health benefits.

Books and barbells: Lumosity is so serious about fitness!
But who really has the most to benefit from regularly training with Lumosity? The truth isn't as obvious as it may seem. At first blush, it seems almost self-evident that subscribers themselves have the most to gain from regular training. After all, every time a member plays one of these games he or she is purportedly building brain fitness. And just like a regular gym membership, regular users ostensibly get the most health benefits at the same time that they are getting the most value for their dollar--a member pays just as much to use the site once as does the person who might use the site 100 times. So frugal members and fitness junkies might see it as to their advantage to play a lot and play often, but they may just want to reconsider that plan.

What may not be abundantly obvious to Lumosity subscribers is the fact that Lumosity itself has quite a bit to gain from subscribers who log into the site and play the games frequently. Besides their obvious interest in seeing users become habituated to playing these games and renewing their subscriptions, the company gets a second, much less visible benefit from regular site-users: more data to analyze and sell. Players' user and performance data is rigorously tracked by Lumosity. This data is then utilized for the company's own aggressive targeted advertising, as well as sold to various undisclosed third parties. It's right there in the Privacy Policy.

Lumosity does at least disclose their data collection practices in the Privacy Policy, but it's because Lumosity markets itself as an educational and scientific enterprise that I found their collection and redistribution of player data to be rather unsettling. As discomfiting as it is to know that many purely commercial entities like Facebook and chain stores like Target have little compunction when it comes to collecting data about our shopping habits and personal preferences, Lumosity is commercializing what essentially amounts to human behavioral research, and this move strikes me as taking the invasion of consumer privacy to a new level. They've turned a long-standing model of research on its head: instead of paying people to be their human lab rats, they're getting the rats pay them. And the data Lumosity gathers is hardly done in the interest of advancing pure science or public health. The company can use the collected player data however it likes, whether that's to improve it's own games, develop training programs for the military, or sell it to third parties and outside researchers.

Even if the majority of adult players may not be overly concerned about the use of their game data, those who are considering the Lumosity suite of games for their children should know that because of these data collection practices, it is against Lumosity's Terms of Service for children under 18 to use Lumosity's games. Thanks to the Children's Online Privacy Protect Act, websites are strictly limited in what kinds of data they can collect from children, and the FTC has become more involved recently in fining children's app developers for violating these privacy laws. Because of this, Lumosity specifically notes that "the Site and the Software are not designed for or directed at children the subject matter of the Site is not designed for or directed at children and the content, including any video or audio, on the Site is not designed for or directed at children." But there is a fair amount of doublespeak involved on this point. At the same time that the Privacy Policy makes explicit the fact that children should not use the site, the site has "Scholar" training programs that are designed for use by "students." And in the sparse scientific data presented in their "Science Behind Lumosity" the Lumosity shows to substantiate it's claims to efficacy, middle-school aged children were the demographic that their studies tested. So the unwary parent should take note that despite any appearances to the contrary, Lumosity's all-encompassing data collection practices that make this educational gaming site off-limits to the under-18 crowd.

Lumosity boasts having 35+ games available on their site, a full list of which appears at the end of this review. Some of the games are quite similar, however. Games like Addition Storm, Subtraction Storm, Multiplication Storm, Division Storm, and Raindrops are all identical in gameplay, and games like Color Match, Memory Lane, Memory Match, Memory Match Overload, Speed Match, Spatial Speed Match, Rhyme Workout also have nearly identical gameplay. Overall, I would consider the number of truly unique games to be somewhere in the high teens or low 20's. I did play each game at least once, however, the review below only highlights a sampling of game from each of the five categories of mental fitness that Lumosity utilizes: Memory, Attention, Speed, Flexibility, and Problem Solving. Some of these games are actually available to play for free if you register for a 3-day trial, so you can test them out for yourself, but I have also made an effort to include many of the games that are restricted to paying members.

Lumosity lets you customize your brain training across five different areas and tracks your results in each category.

I also enrolled in three training programs, the 40-day Basic Training course, 30-day Lumosity PTSD course, and the 30-day Lumosity Scholar course, simply to see how the offering varied from program to program. These training programs are helpful for ensuring that players don't simply stick to their favorite games, but beyond that, it was hard to see any clear logic behind what games were chosen for each program. It was not uncommon to play the some of the same games in each of the programs. For example, Day 1 of the PTDS program and the Lumosity Scholar games both included rounds of the flexibility game Word Bubbles and the memory game Monster Garden. Your mileage may vary with the training programs.

Alas, Japanaese 101 this game is not.
Speed Match (Speed)
Lumosity says: used for thinking faster, faster reaction time, speeding up cognitive processes, and also exercises working memory.

Speed Match shows players various symbols (colored shapes, multicolored bullseyes, or japanese kanji) and then players have to determine whether or not the symbol they are currently viewing matches the symbol presented to them just before. Players are then scored based on their speed and accuracy.

There are only three possible symbols that appear, and the symbols are easily distinguishable from one another, making this a game of reflexes more than anything else. Although it bears a resemblance to an n-Back test, which is known to help improve memory and fluid intelligence, this is the watered down version of that. The goal here isn't to remember the symbols, but to respond quickly. It's not an especially entertaining game to play, but a round is quite short, so there's not much of a time investment involved in trying to improve on your previous scores. At the same time, it's also not really clear that playing this game can really "speed up cognitive processes." There are plenty of reflex-based twitch games, like the side-scrolling space shooters that used to dominate the arcade scene, many of which are more exciting and have more replay value than Speed Match, and they seem just as capable of facilitating thinking faster and having faster reaction times.


Actually running on ice may be less difficult than this maze.
Penguin Pursuit (Speed)
Lumosity says: used for sense of direction, visualization, reading maps, and for exercising spatial recall.

What starts out as a simple navigate-the-maze game quickly turns into an experience in disorientation and, initially at least, in frustration. The premise of Penguin Pursuit is simple: you are a penguin that been placed in a maze. You have to race against a rival penguin and be the first to reach the delicious fish waiting for you at the end of the maze. The faster you outpace your rival, the higher your score for that round. It sounds easy, but just like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, there's a twist. As you progress through the maze, the maze will suddenly and unexpectedly rotate. When it does, the control scheme also changes as well. The right arrow may move your penguin left, or maybe up. Likewise, pressing the up arrow might suddenly make your penguin move down, or to the right. The trick to success in this game is being able to adapt to the constantly changing control scheme as rapidly as possible.

The first time I played Penguin Pursuit, I was embarrassingly unable to adapt to the change in controls. My score for the first playthrough was a whopping 178 points. However, the very next time I played, I managed to get a score of 19160 points. That's not a typo, I really did do several orders of magnitude better the second time I played. And the third time, my score was also drastically improved: 33280. I can't easily account for my dramatic improvement except to say that it's simply a matter of intuiting the mechanics of the game. It clearly wasn't a result of my brain training or of suddenly improved reaction speeds, since I played the first two matches consecutively. Rather, it seems that Penguin Pursuit relies on your brain unconsciously adapting to the new control scheme. In other words, it's like a gestalt switch: your brain either "gets" the new control scheme, or it doesn't. It's not clear that you can really think your way through it. You just have to play until your brain adapts and gets it right.

But does that adaptation constitute improved brain function? Certainly, an unconscious leap in thinking took place, which is undoubtedly qualifies as some form of learning. But is that kind of learning something that can be applied to anything beyond the playing of Penguin Pursuit? I'm not sure. Learning how to play the game isn't the same as learning skills that have applicability outside of the game's context. Penguin Pursuit is certainly challenging, and it's satisfying to overcome that challenge and move the your penguin toward his reward. But what would make it even more rewarding would be to know that studies have verified that mastery over this difficult game is truly indicative of improved visualization, spatial recall, and the like. My drastic improvement between matches makes me skeptical that the trick of this game is anything more than simply learning the game, but there's no denying that some kind of mental flexibility is required to excel at this game.


Clip-art from a diversity-in-the-workplace seminar lives on.
Familiar Faces (Memory)
Lumosity says: used for learning people's names for the first time remembering the name of someone you've met, and for exercising working memory.

This game is a prosopagnosiac's nightmare. You play the waiter/waitress at a restaurant. Various characters come into your establishment and you must learn their names and remember their food and drink orders. At first, this is a fairly simple activity. You mostly have to be concerned with remembering the character's names, as the food orders are pretty much impossible to mess up. As you advance to higher levels (which you can generally only do when you complete a perfect round at your current level), the game gets considerably more challenging, as the cast of customers continues to grow, more orders are placed at a time, and red-herring orders will appear in your list of options.

I've always been downright awful at memorizing things, which made the whole idea behind this game initially daunting to me. However, after playing it a few times, I was surprised to find that it was one of the Lumosity games that I enjoyed the most in the end. The difficulty level of the game ramps up slowly, giving you a chance to really learn the current set of customers before more get thrown at you. And even if the customers are just pretend, I found myself being surprisingly satisfied when I got their names right. That alone made the game rewarding enough to me that I wanted to continue playing.

While Familiar Faces was a reasonably entertaining game, I do have my doubts about whether playing this game can actually improve a player's day-to-day ability to learn new names and faces. All the things that make it an entertaining game are also what make it significantly different from what one would experience in real life trying to remember people's names. For one thing, letting a few days pass between plays is a deadly mistake. The greatest advantage you have as a player is the potential for unlimited repetition. Characters' names don't change between game sessions, so you can keep playing previous levels over and over again until their faces and outfits are seared into your short-term memory. Also unlike real life, while playing the game, you have the luxury of making up zany mnemonics for each customer and saying them aloud. Of course, while repetition, mnemonics, and saying things aloud are good memorization techniques to use in your everyday life, you have to be much more discreet in real life than you can be playing a game. For example, I suspect saying my "Looney Linda with a feather in her hair" mnemonic aloud wouldn't go over well if I were meeting this character in person. So enjoy the entertainment value which Familiar Face's role-playing aspects bring to the game, but don't expect to be a real-life name-remembering whiz by playing this.


Hey, haven't I seen you before? Like, about 2 seconds ago?

Lumosity says: used for learning people's names for the first time, remembering the name of someone you've met, and for exercising working memory.

Of the five gaming categories offered on the Lumosity site, the memory category has the greatest number of games. Although spatial and working memory games are well-represented, the site places a lot of emphasis on games featuring face-name recall, which, practical as that may be, ultimately comes off as a bit gimmicky, as in the above reviewed Familiar Faces. However, while the focus on human faces in Face Memory Workout is little more than a catchy hook, the mechanics behind the game do rest on a proven tool for boosting working memory, the n-Back test.

In n-Back tests, the challenge is not simply matter of recalling the previous symbol just shown, but the previous nth symbol just shown. That is, does the current symbol match what you saw two symbols ago? Three? Four? In Face Memory Workout, players' memories and reflexes are tested as various different faces are shown one after another on the screen, and players have to remember if the currently highlighted face matches a face they had previously seen. On the earliest level, players only have to match the current face to the one previously viewed, making the game identical to the Speed Match games. However, as the "workout" progresses, players are challenged not simply to identify whether the current face matches the one they've just seen, but instead they have to remember if it matches the face they saw two or even three faces previously. Players are then ranked based on how quick they are in making their determination, and based on how accurate their answers are.

The n-Back test features heavily in the memory games of the site, including Memory Lane, Memory Match, Memory Match Overload, and Rhyme Workout, and there's good reason for this. These tests, which are believed to exercise working memory and attention, have been shown to have positive affects in fluid intelligence. That is, success here can translate to better ability to perform unrelated cognitive tasks, or to "to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge." For more on these findings, you can see the original 2008 research paper here.

Yet, even while the memory games listed above represent Lumosity's strongest claims for scientifically valid brain "exercise," almost all of them they still fall shy of the complexity of the kinds of n-Back tests that have shown the most considerable results. Dual n-Back tests, for example, require players to remember not just a single visual image, but an image and a sound. Only one Lumosity game, Memory Lane, actually uses this technique. I suspect this is because n-Back tests, and Dual n-Back tests in particular, are truly difficult. Playing one doesn't feel like a pleasant pastime it feels like a workout. And while Lumosity is supposed to be offering just this workout, in many ways, their emphasis on accessibility is giving their customers the short end of the stick. The most cognitive gains are to be made with the more challenging tests, and Lumosity's offerings in this respect are no better than what is already freely available online. The researchers who originally showed the value of n-back and dual n-back tests offer their program as a free download from their site at the University of Bern. There are also many n-back tests freely available these days, including an open-source downloadable version here, and a very nice, simple online version here.

Blandly dressed up psychological tests aren't very fun.
Lost in Migration (Attention)
Lumosity says: used for avoiding distraction, increasing work productivity, concentration, and for exercising response inhibition.

Lost in Migration is another reflexed based twitch-game, along the same lines as Speed Match, but this time presented with a rather bland bird theme. A flock of birds appears on the screen, and players must use the arrow key corresponding to the direction in which the center bird is facing. The trick is to not get distracted by the direction of the other birds in the flock. Only the center bird's direction matters. The faster and more accurate your answers are, the greater your score will increase.

This "game" is actually a variant of the Eriksen flanker test, which Lumosity describes as "a widely used and rigorously tested psychometric assessment." This it is, but it is not considered a psychological training device. The test is used to primarily to identify impaired brain function in a clinical context, but there is no evidence that this test has any usefulness as a training tool or that improving scores are generalizable to some other kind of brain fitness or life skill. While it certainly can't hurt to try and sharpen your reflexes by playing this game, whether this has measurable effects beyond improving one's score is doubtful.

It would also seem doubtful to expect much success in trying to improve over time, no matter how much you practice this game. Success here depends largely on sharp reflexes, and you can expect to plateau on this game very quickly. Despite Lumosity's advertised emphasis on "adaptive learning" in their games, Lost In Migration doesn't ever change as you become more practiced at it, and it never offers more challenge. Interestingly, the little research that exists on practiced use of flanker test suggests that the best way to improve performance at this game isn't to keep training your brain, but rather to get your body moving. Studies have shown that participating in moderate physical activity can temporarily boost flanker test reaction time. So if you're only interest in playing is to Lost In Migration is to achieve the best score, get up out of your computer chair and jog in place while you play. However, I'd recommend you skip this flanker test altogether and just go for a jog. Your brain will probably be better for it.

Wearing nametags apparently goes against fish-etiquette.
Playing Koi (Attention)

Lumosity says: used for avoiding distraction, increasing work productivity, concentration, and for exercising response inhibition.

Many of the attention games in Lumosity's arsenal I found to be quite easy, to the extent that they were pretty mindless and not at all fun to play. As an avid gamer, it's entirely possibly that I'm more attuned to tacking visual changes than non-gamers, so my impressions may differ from a majority of Lumosity users. But games like Lost in Migration (above) and Eagle Eye were painfully simplistic to me. They hardly felt like games, and were neither stimulating nor rewarding. Unless the purpose of these attention games was to make player perform a mindlessly repetitious task time and time again, then maybe they are successful in that respect. But the contrast in the weakness of most of the attention games is painfully noticeable when they're compared to the much more enjoyable and inventive (not to mention cleverly titled) game, Playing Koi.

In the game, players are tasked with feeding all the koi in a pond once a day. The fish are all identical in appearance, and players must click on each fish once and only once in order to feed it for the day. With each new round, the number of fish in the pond increases. The first level is fairly simple: three fish become seven by the level's end, and while tracking the fish did require concentration, it didn't strike me as overly difficulty. But as players master one level, harder levels are unlocked (the game has five levels in total). More distractions appear: certain types of fish should not be fed and lilypads block your line of site. The number of koi in need of feeding grows, the fish swim more erratically, and the time you have to wait between each feeding is extended. All these factors combined makes it that much easier to lose track and feed one you've already fed.

The pleasingly soothing artwork belies the genuine tension involved in playing the game: Playing Koi absolutely require focus, and a lot of it. Even slightest waiver in focus spells doom, as it only takes a split second to lose track of that last fish that needs to be fed, and I found myself scrunching my face into all kinds of comic contortions as I desperately tried to track ten increasingly wriggly koi fish around the pond. There is little doubt here that success in this game hinges on your ability to stay on task, and each near-perfect round lends plenty of motivation to try again. I think the strength of this particular game is that it seems to always remain just challenging enough to make that perfect game elusive, but not so challenging that success seems impossible.

However, as with Lost In Migration, I do worry that there is a plateau effect at work here as well. No matter how many times I played, I didn't see myself doing that much better than my initial playthrough. I can complete all five levels, but by the fourth, I invariably start to lose track of a fish or two before the end of the round. I still end up with a decent score, but no amount of practicing could make me consistently able to score a perfect game on the most challenging levels. Attention is a something that can be improved over time, and I would like to believe that Playing Koi is a game where repeated practice could really pay off, but the feeling that I had reached my own personal limit made me doubt that the game could transform me into some kind of heroic, super-human master of attention like a Jason Bourne or Shawn Spencer. Even so, I readily concede feeding fish has never been so fun.

Word Bubbles (Flexibility)
Lumosity says: used for language, tip-of-the-tongue word finding, thinking outside of the box, and for exercising information processing.

Described as Lumosity's most popular game, Word Bubbles gives players a three letter prompt and they are tasked with creating as may words as possible starting with those three letters. Word length counts, and players only receive points for the first three words of the same length that they create. Know at least a dozen six-letter words that begin with the letters d-r-e? Well, you're out of luck because only three will count! While the limits on the number of words of any length can be inhibiting, it also introduces an element of strategy into the game. Instead of just typing blindly every word you can think of, you get better scores for being able to "max out" each length category. It's a small strategic element, but it certainly helps keep the game from feeling like a stale vocabulary lesson.

Word Bubbles challenges players to probe the recesses of their memories and find words, both common and uncommon, to fill out their list. In this respect, the game is an exercise in both memory and vocabulary. For example, who knew that I had the word "vertiginously" locked away in my little mind? I didn't, but when v-e-r was my Word Bubbles prompt, out it sprang like a fully formed Athena. Who knows, maybe I'll even get to use it conversationally at some point, now that it's been moved up into my conscious memory. But aside from the occasional serendipitous discovery of a word you though you had long lost, Word Bubbles doesn't obviously contribute to expanding your vocabulary. If a prefix stumps you, there's little in the game that will make you likely to succeed the next time the prefix comes around. User CoolCat put it best in the player-provided tip section, "Active reading, such as texts, novels and newspapers, builds greater word vocabulary and better scores." In other words, it's what you do outside of the game that's most likely to help you succeed at Word Bubbles.

Brain Shift and Brain Shift Overdrive (Flexibility)
Lumosity says: used for multitasking, shifting your focus of attention, cognitive control, and for exercising information processing.

Brain Shift is a game that is supposed to help your brain shift gears from one task to another. In the basic version of the game, players are shown both a letter and a number. If this letter/number combination appear in the top box, players must answer yes or no as to whether the number is an even number. If the letter/number combination appears in the bottom box, player must decide, yes or no, if the letter is a vowel. In the Overdrive version of the game, the basic gameplay is the same, only there are four boxes, and players must respond yes or no to the following questions, depending on which box the letter/number combination appears in: is the number even, is the number odd, is the letter a vowel, is the letter a consonant?

The point of the game seems to be to train your brain to respond quickly to shifting evaluative criteria. In order to be successful, player must remember what question each box asks of the letter/number combination and then correctly evaluate whether that letter/number combination meets the criteria. And while the criteria are simple, it is in fact quite challenging to shift mental gears and provide a quick an accurate answer. Practice certainly helps, and the best scores seem to come from those moments when your focus and rhythm are in perfect sync.

While it is satisfying to feel that sense of "flow" while playing the Brain Shift games, it's not clear if there are lasting or meaningful cognitive benefits to be derived from the game. Multi-tasking is one of the defining buzzwords of the twenty-first century, but most research suggests that our brains are not especially designed for this function. When we try to multitask, or constantly switch our attention back and forth between two tasks, we are in fact not really paying attention to either activity. We're not actually multitasking at all, we're simply distracted. And it's not clear that our brains can be "trained" to be truly effective multitaskers. So while the Brain Shift games are certainly challenging, it's not actually clear if meeting the challenge of these games is going to make a player better able to "adapt to changing circumstances" or "respond to the spontaneity of daily life," as Lumosity claims it will.

Ho-hum. It's like being in grade school all over again.
Raindrops (Problem Solving)
Lumosity says: used for mental calculations, increased aptitude with numbers, making estimates, and for exercising quantitative reasoning.

As was the case with almost all of the games in the "Problem Solving" category, Raindrops is basically a timed math test. Equations are encapsulated in rain drops which fall slowly to the ground. Players must solve the equation and enter the correct answer before the raindrop reaches the ground. The better player do, the more raindrops fall and the more challenging the equations become ( 5+1 versus 34-16). In Raindrops, all math functions are fair game (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), which makes it somewhat more challenging that the other math games on the site. Scores are calculated base on the number of equations per minute solved, the total number of problems solved, accuracy overall, and accuracy under pressure.

There's little doubt that playing this game repeatedly should boost your mental math skills a bit. When your multiplication tables are rusty, practice helps refreshen the memory. And the speed component will definitely push finger-counters to brush up on their addition and subtraction skills. But these games won't make anyone a math whiz, and the claim that these exercises are even an exercise in the cognitive function of "problem solving" seems a bit of a misnomer. Strictly speaking, player are solving math problems, but I tend to think of "problem solving" as a category of mental functioning to be something a bit broader than simply mathematical ability. As simple math-trainers, these games will do the task, but there are plenty of other math-trainers available freely online. Raindrops is neither overly fun nor overly exceptional in the realm of math games.

By the Rules (Problem Solving)
Lumosity says: used for pattern recognition, dissecting complex arguments, problem solving, and for exercising task switching.

By The Rules, and it's clone game, Word Sort, are games that seem to be pulled straight out of an SAT test. In By the Rules, players are presented with a card that has a colored shape on it. They then have to decide with this shape follows the hidden sorting rule for the round. For the first card of each round, the player is simply guessing. But based on whether or not that guess is correct, the player can make an educated guess about how the second card should be sorted. For example, if the first card is a green circle, I might guess that it follows the rule. If I am correct, then when the next card comes up as a red circle, I know that if this card follows the rule, then the rule is "circles." If, however, that second card doesn't follow the rule, then the rule is "the color green." By process of elimination, players should quickly be able to figure out the rule for each round. The player moves on to the next rule after he or she sorts six consecutive cards correctly.

The game is essentially a logic puzzle, but it's a fairly simplistic one. In fact, despite what I said above, I feel fairly certain that the SAT Reasoning Test offers much more challenging logic puzzles, for which the meager pattern recognition exercise employed in By The Rules wouldn't really prepare you. As I've said with some of the other games reviewed above, Lumosity has clearly worked hard to ensure that their games are accessible to all levels of players. There's nothing wrong with this--at least not a a starting point--but the problem is that many of these games never really push players to grow and excel.

Despite the fact that "adaptive learning" is supposed to be one of the innovations of the Lumosity site, it is quite disappointing to see that many of these games do not in fact adjust in difficulty as response to a player's performance. Virtually none of them respond "on a moment-to-moment basis" as the site claims, and even those with a difficulty structure based on a level-up system don't necessarily become that much more difficult. By The Rules, for example, simply adds more types of cards to the mix, like shapes colored in with a gradient, or some have no fill color at all but are just a shape outline. This means that it takes longer to deduce the rules because there are more possibilities than before, but the cognitive processes used to uncover the rules hardly change at all.

This kind of soft-handed approach to increasing difficulty really undermines the entire purpose of the site. The brain, just like our muscles, grows in response to challenge. Lifting a 2 pound weigh 100 times isn't going to do as much for your physical strength as lifting a 20 pound weight ten times. Likewise, we may be more likely to play a game repeatedly because cognitively, it's relatively easy for us, but the fact that it has become easy tells us that we're not learning from it anymore, and it is almost certain that we're not gaining the kind of mental fitness that will transfer into other mental activities. In the case of By the Rules, I would be downright shocked if there were actually clinical proof that this game was in any way improving my ability to dissect complex argument, even though Lumosity claims just such a mental benefit. I suspect a virtual chess game would serve players better as a tool for improving pattern recognition and problem solving, although it wouldn't be as slickly marketable.

Even for those of us who already believe that games posses the ability to be powerful learning tools, I'm always wary of products that seem to invoke the power of "science" in their advertising, as though just speaking the very word can serve as a magical incantation, giving legitimacy and validity to all of one's to one's pie-in-the-sky claims. My experience with Lumosity did nothing to quell those suspicions. In fact, Lumosity seems to be to "brain fitness" as the Nintendo Wii is to physical fitness. If you're serious about fitness, you are probably better off running on a treadmill instead of hula hooping on WiiFit, and if you're serious about keeping your mind sharp, you'll benefit just as much, if not more, from reading a book, learning or practicing a foreign language, doing a few math problems each day, or playing your favorite casual puzzle game, be it a crossword puzzle or Tetris.

There is no doubt that people can and do learn from games and that some games may be particularly well-suited to improving certain categories of cognitive functioning like attention, memory, spatial orientation, perceptual speed, etc. But saying that Lumosity's games are any more sophisticated or better at increasing "mental fitness" or "intelligence" than the hundreds of other games that one might play strikes me as all too reminiscent of those diet pills that you see advertised on late night tv: "Clinically tested! Eat all you want and never gain weight!" If you feel like you don't get enough mental stimulation from your daily life, you like puzzle games, and you need the idea of a structured "training program" and incessant emails reminding you to "work out" your brain, then by all means, a subscription to Lumosity might be good for you. But if you think Lumosity games are going to change your life or make you the brainiac you always fantasized about being, then expect to be disappointed.

Lumosity is sleek, polished, and provides a reasonably entertaining diversion for someone who already enjoys puzzle games. I personally felt that there wasn't really enough diversity in the games to justify the $15/month price tag, but I'm also not a huge puzzle-game player, so that might be a matter of personal preference. My biggest reservation about Lumosity is not a complaint about the quality of the games as casual puzzle games, it's that Lumosity markets them as so much more than that. If Lumosity were content with being a casual, if vaguely educational, puzzle game site, it would be easy to endorse their product as some harmless fun. I could readily concede that their games might be a bit more of a cognitive workout than the average round of Bejewelled or Plants vs. Zombies. However, it concerns me that Lumosity takes their claims about proven cognitive benefits too far, and their attempts to market themselves as working in partnership with major medical and academic researcher makes their their aggressive data collection practices seem outright predatory.


The error page you see when you seek to learn more about Lumosity's "proven results."

After doing some independent research, including searches of major medical and neuroscience research journal databases, I was only able to locate one peer-reviewed study that specifically tested the cognitive benefits of Lumosity games. You can read the published article for yourself here. In a nutshell, this particular study focused on cognitive rehabilitation of children suffering from post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, also referred to colloquially as "chemo-fog." As such, the study was designed less as a general test of the effectiveness of Lumosity as a brain-strengthening regime, and more about its capacity to serve as suitable rehabilitative therapy for children fighting cancer. The findings did indicate that some Lumosity games seemed capable of rehabilitating specific cognitive skills back to their pre-cancer-treatment levels, which is obviously a promising finding for children undergoing chemotherapy, but it is a considerably more modest finding than the claims to generalized brain-boosting power which are plastered all over the Lumosity website. Also notable is the study's finding that in several categories, training with Lumosity games had no effect on the children's cognitive skills.

While consumers can easily avoid Lumosity's shady shenanigans and look elsewhere for their mental stimulation, educational game developers should take note of the effect that aggressive marketers like Lumosity may be doing to our industry. In the short run, Lumosity may be successful at building up a user base and even recruiting new players through their ads. However, I cannot help but think that a backlash will be inevitable. There is a strong case to be made for the educational value of games, but in the long run, overstating the efficacy of our games is certain to increase the cynicism of the very people we want to play them. In light of the lack of genuinely rigorous clinical research, Lumosity appears to playing fast and loose with the claims of being "clinically proven" and that their program represents "science that works." These claims may not be entirely spurious, but they're certainly exaggerated. And while there will always be some people who will fall for pure hype, all present and future educational game-makers will be hurt if over-the-top marketing claims destroy consumer trust. If more "brain game" companies like Lumosity continue to use the mantra of "science" as a means of distracting consumers from their overtly commercial interests, both researchers and game developers may find that they no longer have an audience for their work, no matter how innovative or well-intentioned it may be.


Pros: A varied selection of polished puzzle games and brain-teaser style games. Training programs make it easy to "work-out" every day. Tracks your high scores and lets players see their progress over time.


Cons: The number of unique games is significantly less than 35, as many games are very similar if not identical in gameplay. Games are marketed with vague claims about "stronger brains" and "mental fitness" that are misleading and pseudoscientific. Enrolled users become unwitting guinea pigs for targeted marketing and third-party research.




Score: C-

Penguin Pursuit, spatial orientation (Speed)
Rotation Matrix, spatial orientation (Speed)
Speed Match, information processing (Speed)
Spatial Speed Match, information processing (Speed)

Birdwatching, visual field (Attention)
Eagle Eye, visual field (Attention)
Lost in Migration, focus (Attention)
Observation Tower, visual field (Attention)
Playing Koi, focus (Attention)
Space Junk, visual field (Attention)
Top Chimp, visual field (Attention)

Addition Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
By the Rules, logical reasoning (Problem Solving)
Word Sort, logical reasoning (Problem Solving)
Chalkboard Challenge, quantitative reasoning (Problem Solving)
Division Storm, quantitative reasoning (Problem Solving)
Multiplication Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
Raindrops, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
Subtraction Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)

Face Memory Workout, face-name recall (Memory)
Familiar Faces, face-name recall (Memory)
Memory Lane, working memory (Memory)
Memory Match, working memory (Memory)
Memory Match Overload, working memory (Memory)
Memory Matrix, spatial recall (Memory)
Moneycomb, spatial recall (Memory)
Monster Garden, working memory (Memory)
Name Tag, face-name recall (Memory)
Rhyme Workout, working memory (Memory)

Brain Shift, task switching (Flexibility)
Brain Shift Overdrive, task switching (Flexibility)
Color Match, response inhibition (Flexibility)
Disconnection, task switching (Flexibility)
Disillusion, task switching (Flexibility)
Route to Sprout, planning (Flexibility)
Word Bubbles, verbal fluency (Flexibility)
Word Bubbles Rising, verbal fluency (Flexibility)


How is LPI calculated?

LPI (Lumosity Performance Index) is a standardized performance metric that shows how well you are performing on Lumosity games and lets you compare performance across games and Cognitive Areas. LPI is based on the scores you receive for Lumosity games. It is not influenced by your age or any training preferences you have selected.

We calculate LPI at 3 different levels: Game LPI, Cognitive Area LPI, and overall Cognitive LPI.

Game LPI is determined by examining score distributions for each game across a wide range of members. An LPI value is then assigned to each game score. Once these LPI values are set for a particular game, members will start receiving a Game LPI when they play that game. We readjust your Game LPI each time you play by looking at how well you scored that round, and how that compares to your previous scores for that game. We look at all your recent scores, not just your best score or your last score.

Cognitive Area LPIs (the LPIs for Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, and Problem Solving) are calculated using a weighted average of the Game LPIs for the games you have played in that Cognitive Area.

We will exclude the Game LPIs of your lowest performing games from your Cognitive Area LPI calculation if you have played enough games in that Cognitive Area.

Cognitive LPI is calculated using a weighted average of the Game LPIs from all Cognitive Areas. Since you might not play an equal number of games from each Cognitive Area, your Cognitive LPI may not be the same as the average of your 5 Cognitive Area LPIs.

We will exclude the Game LPIs of your lowest performing games from your LPI calculations if you have played enough games.

Math games and Language games are not included in the Overall Cognitive LPI because these are knowledge based game rather than cognitive based games. Math games have a separate LPI.

Not what you were looking for?

Want to learn how your LPI compares to other members? Check out our How You Compare FAQ.

Wondering why some games don’t have an LPI? Read our Early Access games FAQ .

Want to see how your LPI has changed over time? Read our LPI and training history FAQ.


Spectral Luminosity

In most cases, luminosity is meant to relate how much energy is being emitted by an object in all the forms of light it radiates (visual, infrared, x-ray, etc.). Luminosity is the term that we apply to all wavelengths, regardless of where they lie on the electromagnetic spectrum. Astronomers study the different wavelengths of light from celestial objects by taking the incoming light and using a spectrometer or spectroscope to "break" the light into its component wavelengths. This method is called "spectroscopy" and it gives great insight into the processes that make objects shine.

Each celestial object is bright in specific wavelengths of light for example, neutron stars are typically very bright in the x-ray and radio bands (though not always some are brightest in gamma-rays). These objects are said to have high x-ray and radio luminosities. They often have very low optical luminosities.

Stars radiate in very broad sets of wavelengths, from the visible to infrared and ultraviolet some very energetic stars are also bright in radio and x-rays. The central black holes of galaxies lie in regions that give off tremendous amounts of x-rays, gamma-rays, and radio frequencies, but may look fairly dim in visible light. The heated clouds of gas and dust where stars are born can be very bright in the infrared and visible light. The newborns themselves are quite bright in the ultraviolet and visible light.


What Is Lumosity?

Lumosity is basically an online brain-training program, which consists of games to help in the improvement of flexibility, memory, attention span, the speed of processing information, quick problem-solving, and decision-making techniques. Lumos Labs was founded in the year 2005 by David Drescher, Kunal Sarkar, and Michael Scanlon.

They launched their website called “lumosity.com” in the year 2007. By January 2015, they had at least 70 million members who took part of the online games. It is believed that Lumos Labs helps keep the brains of people challenged through simple online tools, which would allow anyone to get trained on their core cognitive abilities. There are many diverse disciplines, which combine neuroscience and visual art. Brain training programs such as Lumosity keeps the brain engaged to improve cognitive abilities.

The Worrying Link Between Sleep Apnea and Dementia

Team

Today, Lumosity has been used by over 90 million people across the world. It offers a wide range of brain-training programs, which consists of more than 30 brain games. Lumosity is a team of game designers and scientists, who explore and create new ways to challenge the brain and push cognitive research forward.

Scientists at Lumos Labs take the common cognitive and neuropsychological tasks and design entirely new tasks or challenges. The designers transform these tasks developed by the scientists into fun games that can challenge an individual's core cognitive skills. Lumos Labs also works with various universities worldwide. They provide qualified researchers almost free access to the training tools of Lumosity to help them investigate newer areas of cognition.

Lumosity Mobile Application

The mobile application has daily workouts, which are drawn from around more than 30 games that challenge five core cognitive abilities. Each workout mode has carefully curated a set of games, which use the individual's training habits and preferences to target various ways in brain training.

The mobile application is available in English, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and German languages. English is the default language for devices that support other languages. You can also change the language of the app by carrying out certain changes in the settings of the device.

Do these brain-training games really work?

First, let's ask what are these new age brain games setting in for? Does brain-training really work in the real world? Lumosity and few other brain-training online games are mostly built on the platform of psychological tests. These tests are used to determine how the inner workings of the mind work. Other games such as the N-back test is designed to measure working memory and capacity. The Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT) is carried out to measure cognitive flexibility and selective attention.

Psychological tests do not offer a comprehensive coverage of the intelligence or the capabilities of the brain. This area is something that is not completely understood yet. The point of carrying out or going through the games offered by Lumosity is to improve the overall IQ of an individual. However, there is still no clear correlation between them.

There is a level of self-confidence attached while carrying out the tests. It has a placebo effect, wherein one believes that by carrying out the tests and also getting better in them would lead to an improvement in the quality of life and overall brain development of an individual.

There is still research going on in this area, particularly about the exact intention of the test and the serious effects it would have on the capabilities of the brain including the alteration of the intention in a meaningful method. While Lumosity may not lead to a direct impact, but somewhere, it can indirectly make a lot of difference if one needs that boost in their self-confidence.

There have been certain reviews, which confirm that brain cognitive training tends to work by carrying out these online games. Certain people have benefitted in a way wherein brain fog has decreased. It has also led to an increase in brain power such as improved memory and focus. However, the effects also differ from person-to-person since it involves other factors such as maintaining healthy habits, personality, outlook, awareness, and genetics.

A person who is a non-negative thinker would see that there are a lot of potential or benefits along with motivation of scores as the games progress. Our brain can be described as a muscle, therefore training provided to the muscle would help in the longevity and increases the effectiveness of the brain as similar to the rest of the body. If you feed your brain with motivation, good perspective, nutrients, and essential exercises, then it would surely perform much better over time.

Lumosity Website

To gain access to their online brain games, you need to sign up and provide some basic information such as gender, academic studies, current profession, and how you heard about Lumosity. Apart from these details, other basic questions include how often you exercise, the time of the day when you are most productive, the devices that you will use for the Lumosity training program, and how long you sleep at night.

Once the above basic questions are answered, they would lead you to the next step, wherein they would take your fit test in terms of flexibility, attention span, memory, and results. Each of these fit test levels would have games to understand an individual's brain fitness.

Lumosity Games

The cognitive training program of Lumos Labs contains a number of online brain games, wherein each game is divided into categories of Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, and Problem-Solving. Not all of the games would be available to every user. To gain complete access, you must avail their special packages with paid registration. You can register for monthly, yearly, or it can be a one-time lifetime payment. By choosing any of these subscriptions, you can enjoy the full training program with unlocked games.

There is also an intelligent recommendation generated for workouts. The Lumosity algorithm is known to generate various sets of workouts based on the individual’s preferences and training habits. This can be decided based on the questions asked in the program or one would need to go through certain gaming sessions. There are insight reports, which are tailored to provide a deeper understanding of what the training is all about and the levels of achievement.

There are over fifty cognitive games provided by Lumosity. These games have a variety of challenges, which are designed by scientists and game designers to adapt to one’s experiences and skills. There are also tools provided by the website that would help track the progress of the training. It keeps a track of all the scores to see how one has performed in comparison with others and the changes made over a period of time. For those with paid registrations, they would be allowed to access new features or games created by Lumosity along with providing experimental tools.

Below is the list of online brain games, which are available in various cognitive training sessions:


Define Adaptability:

Adaptability is the nature of changing or create modifications in oneself to suit to the new environment. For a workplace culture, it means that a person must be open to new ideas or changes, must be able to work independently or in teams, or carry out tasks that are not intended for one person only.

Employers are increasingly shifting from single roles to the rotation of roles and flexible job descriptions. It’s a sought-after skill as it indicates the employee can adapt to changing customer needs, technology trends.

It is also tied to career growth as the person becomes more equipped.

An adaptable person is someone who can carry out multiple tasks, manage multiple assignments by setting priorities and making changes to attitude to merge with the new culture.

To function or perform in the world in any situation or circumstance requires an individual to possess the basic skill of adaptability.

Hence, the importance of adaptability gets stronger when there are more given opportunities.


The Hexaflex as a Dynamic Therapy Tool

The Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis and the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure are both relatively new iterations of the Hexaflex that have exciting applications for ACT clinicians. Let’s take a look at them…

Since I first saw it, I have found the Hexaflex to be a great visual tool for mentally conceptualizing where a client might be struggling in therapy. The original idea for using the hexaflex as a diagnostic and case formulation tool was presented by Kelly Wilson in a plenary talk he gave on the Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis he has developed as an alternative to our current creaky syndromal classification system embodied by the DSM-IV. That talk was last summer at the ACT Summer Institute III. Back in May at the Summer Institute IV, Kelly expanded on the diagnostic system in a two-day pre-conference workshop I was lucky enough to attend. It also looks like there will be more from Kelly Wilson on this diagnostic approach in his forthcoming book The Heart of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis has been and will be written about in other places, so let me spend some time looking at the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure. It was developed by David Chantry, editor of the excellent resource Talking ACT. Without having used it with clients yet, what’s exciting to me about this measure is the fact that it makes the Hexaflex even that much more useful. Rather than a static chart, the ACT ADVISOR makes the hexaflex a dynamic, manipulable tool for charting progress. It’s a living document now–like the Constitution!

I also like the elegant symplicity of its format, and how easy all the anchor statements are for everyone to understand. The measure also comes with a chart for clinicians to use in tracking a client’s scores over time, adding up to a cumulative score for psychological flexibility. I like measures that keep ACT clincians’ eyes on the prize of enhanced psychological flexibility.

The two uncertainties I would have in using the measure were actually anticipated by David Chantry when he discussed it in an ACT listserve post. He noted that the design makes it pretty obvious that higher scores are ‘better’ to get, hence introducing possible response bias (pliance). He also said the design of the measure reveals the entirety of the ACT model, which might or might not be beneficial at some junctures in therapy. Clients could find it helpful to see where interventions are leading, but on the other hand it could also be at odds with ACT’s emphasis on experiential rather than intellectual learning. These cautions don’t apply for the Hexaflex dimensional diagnosis form since it is only seen and used by clincians.

Well, I hope ACT therapists out there will follow these links and give both the ACT ADVISOR Psychological Flexibility Measure and the impressive Hexaflex Dimensional Approach to Diagnosis a thorough trial run in your clinical work–and provide the developers with helpful feedback if you have any. (Note: You will have to be an ACBS member with a login to access these.)

You can really see the evolution of an idea–the hexaflex–looking at these two documents. And I don’t think this will by any means be the last time we will see the hexaflex used in interesting and dynamic ways in clincial work. Steven Hayes has also been active in re-imagining the hexaflex. In one workshop he displayed two hexaflexes facing each other with lines connecting them to represent the intricate parallel processes in therpay between client and therapist. And in his plenary at the Summer Institute IV, he overlayed a new image onto the hexaflex: a turtle. Stay tuned for more fascinating uses and re-envisionings of the good ol’ hexaflex.


Comments

There are lots of ways to improve brain power line dancing and bridge are two that work.

and of course some Big Pharma Pills.

You obviously have functioned well in life. You're selfish in allowing others to improve themselves from something that does work. Go play your cards and line dancing, your real swift and clearly do not know what you are talking about, probably because you are close minded to possibilities and for solutions. If you are not going to be part of the solution that can help people improve themselves, I suggest you keep quiet. Because you do not how others are functioning on day to day basis. You obviously have not struggled yourself. Shame on you.

I find it sad that your writing coveys such judgement and "shame" for those holding alternate opinions. I can tell you from my own experience, that kind of stress in it self can cause memory/cognitive issues.

Line dancing, much like any other dancing, has been proven to utilize all parts of the brain, thus strengthening it. Same goes for playing an instrument.

Another scam -- at least of an intellectual nature

Thanks, that's help a lot in this world where everyone is behind us hunting our money

What about people who didn't re-up but still fell for the fraudulent claim and paid for a year? Is there any way to recoup any of the original membership fee?

The terms of the settlement apply to people who signed up for Lumosity before January 1, 2015, and are on an auto-renewal plan. If you are in that group, you should get a notice from Lumosity that gives you a one-click option to cancel your subscription.

So, my understanding is that neither Lumosity's 2 million dollars (a small sum, I might add) nor the 50 million dollars that is "suspended" is not going to those of us who were duped? Again, it goes to the lawyers, the FTC, but not to the little guy who got cheated? Why am I feeling. cheated?

Keep in mind that no one has found evidence that it Doesn't work, they are just saying that the company didn't have enough evidence that it Does work. They have been doing some research, and it may well be that the activities they have do have some impact on general cognitive function. Their claims are certainly a lot less predatory than a lot of things--say the average dietary supplement or homeopathic "medicine".

Honestly, it is hard for me to believe that anything that forces you to focus/think couldn't have a negative affect. Kind of like how lifting some weight gains you some strength at the gym. If anything, at least these are games that are intended to help you—not just entertain you. I think something that forces you to focus is a good thing in a less demanding regard. I don't think I'd pay for it, but I don't pay for a lot of things..

I am smart to read your website. Thank You

Job well done FTC. I knew they were just preying on good people who feared the aging process would be 'fixed or delayed' by playing for games we paid for. I didn't buy it one bit.

Don't feel so good. Lumocity changed my life for the much better. They never gave me anything to say something good. Too bad the government didn't interview people that actually pushed their brains, to see what happened to them. Why did my friends that also used it, get positive life results.

I wouldn't call it 'preying on people' if they provide a product that consumers find useful. And especially as it's less than $3 a month. Well worth it to me, so I will keep my membership.

As for people's fears about dementia, they're right to fear it. Doctors still don't know how to prevent it, and most of the drugs on the market have only modest effectiveness, yet they're approved and continue to be prescribed.

My only complaint with Luminosity is the lack of transparency and customer service - I am skeptical when there isn't an 800 number to call or a way to easily chat with a company. Sometimes I've gotten a nonsensical answer to a question that seemed like it came from a bot. Though my last inquiry was answered by a real person, and was helpful.

I have found Lumosity to be fun and I see improvements in remembering peoples names. Maybe it doesn't do all they say but I don't think it's a scam. I hope the settlement doesn't cause them to stop doing the research.

This action against Lumosity did not go far enough. All of your reports say only that FTC "alleged" that their was misleading advertising, when it should have been that Lumosity acknowledged such distortions. There is no explanation why the original fine that reflected the seriousness of their offenses, was reduced so dramatically. Unless this is fully explained including the financial status of the company, there will be a shadow over this entire investigation.

Follow the link in this blog post to the press release, which includes this sentence: "The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission." Additional information is available in the Related Cases tab on the press release page.

SO let's get this straight. they pay the FTC a $2 million fine for doing the work you are supposed to do, then suspend the $50 million fine that would go to the people they scammed so that they won't go out of business. PERFECTLY logical. great job FTC! Keep patting yourself on the back.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for calling this snake oil what it is, and holding them accountable. Science for the win!

Let me get this right. for the suckers who signed up, they are left hanging. No recourse, no refunds. They can cancel, but they are out any $ they put into this. But that's OK, the government will collect their $2 million. So much for protecting the consumer.

You can read the related press release for more information about the matter.

Under the proposed settlement, people who signed up for Lumosity before January 1, 2015 and are on an auto-renewal plan will get a one-click option to cancel their subscription and avoid future billing.

The proposed order imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after the company pays $2 million to the Commission. The proposed final judgment and order, available here, outlines how the $2 million may be used.

As usual very enlighting and benefitial information. Thanks!

I understand but do not agree with this! I don't see where they have done anything wrong. If you go running. it increases your heart rate promoting ones health. If you do sit ups. it works your abs reducing stomach fat. If you do puzzles and brain teasers. it exercises the brain promoting it's function. Kind of seems like common sense to me but I know many people lack this creating another useless action against a company. I would protest this cause I believe in luminosity and believe it does help. I had epilepsy and suffered many effects with memory and brain function. it has helped me cause anything that works my brain and makes me think increases it's overall function!

Jenny: I have a differing point of view. I also have epilepsy since I was born placenta previa. I get very few games that exercise my flexibility and memory. This is disconcerting because that is what I signed up for. In talking with someone at Lumosity, I got double talk. Bridge and exercise can really help. Exercise really, really helps.

I agree with Jenny here. I've used it for a couple of years and find my short-term memory far more effective than before. Phone numbers, names, addresses can all be retained better. That's real world. The games are challenging and fun. I exercise a lot and this is part of my effective wellness regimen.

I agree with Jenny on this matter. When we use our brains we are building connections. By challenging our minds those connections get stronger. If you are to meet someone new and learn their name, you have increased your brains capacity. This is one example of how Lumosity can help. Of course there are many other ways to improve brain function, that's fine too. I for one am more sceptical of the legal system that has prosicuted them. Using a fear tactic to say that what Lumosity claims does not work. I understand the checks and balances aspect. However I for one would rather see the money spent on researching the data that Lomosty has compiled. In the name of science let's step forward and come up with some peer reviewed articles that are sent to all involved in this study of brain activity.

Just to be clear, if I an understanding this correctly, the issue is that Lumosity made claims that they could not back up with solid science. This does not necessarily mean that the games and similar activities have no positive impact. It means that they overstated the case. Is this accurate?

You'll find more detail in this press release about the matter, which says that the creators and marketers of the Lumosity “brain training” program agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges. The FTC alleged that the creators and markters deceived consumers with unfounded claims that Lumosity games can help users perform better at work and in school, and reduce or delay cognitive impairment associated with age and other serious health conditions.

As part of the settlement, Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, will pay $2 million in redress, notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing.

Yes you keep saying this, but the bottom line FTC is you screwed the company, screwed the little guy and robbed everyone involved. Lets run a lawsuit on the FTC for "unfounded claims" that your here to help. How's your track record on honesty and transparency? "2 million in redress" soooo to your account? is that what "redress" means in this? cause it sure doesnt mean "to those who were scammed, does it? Let me guess, theres a press release legaleasing why you get to keep the money right?

Please visit the FTC’s Lumosity Refunds page for more information. The deadline to file a claim is tomorrow, August 6, 2016.

Thanks so much for protecting us! It's good to know that sometimes the government is doing all they can to protect us from companies that just want our money. Sometimes I feel like the government isn't doing that.

Protecting us by the FTC collecting $2M because a company didn't have enough research to substantiate their claims? Quit being a sheep the government isn't protecting anyone but themselves.

When do they have to notify customers by?

The details and timing of the notice are included in the proposed stipulated order, available from this page about the proceedings.

How do I apply for my money I paid for a year of lumosity ,and it didn't help.

Under the proposed settlement with the FTC, the company will tell subscribers about the FTC action and give them an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing. If you are a subscriber with an auto-renewal, you will get a notice.

If you want a refund for a product, you can use these tips about solving consumer problems. If a product or service doesn't live up to your expectations, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

I find your comments irresponsible. I think that most people know that by exercising your brain through learning and challenging it through various games, etc, is good for the development of your brain and definitely leads to having higher brain capacity, etc. So sites like Luminosity are a service in that way. Stop the unnecessary bashing if Legitimate sites and potentially stopping a person from getting help in the further development of their brain. Thank you

Bridget Small must be a robot, as she only replies with the same paragraphs or very similiar over and over and doesn't answer specific questions.

Very good Lynn I agree with you about Smalls' continued repitition. I have used lumosity and it seems to assist me irregardless of proven scientific evidence. a few points: 1) Lumosity lacks scientific backing but is effective for wellness at a minimal cost - a good long-term return investment . 2) To use payed personnel in advertising is legitimate irregardless of said payment methods, so the goverment/FTC claim of "misleading comsumers" should not have held in court. 3) While there is a $50 million suspended fine, why does the FTC/government get "a bonus" of $2 million for doing its assigned duty to the consumer? I believe that money should be part of a government/FTC consumer redress reimbursement scheme for Lumosity customers who desire such redress.
Finally, the government/FTC in this instance has once again solidified a double standard under the guise of protecting the public/comsumers with aide of legislations/laws, and its legal tenacles in every available arena from predatory practioners . As a American consumer amongst the masses, I wonder about our the protection from pharmaceutical companies of these lecit drugs that continue to damage our mind and body? Just the one example, too many for this blog and ranting is insolvent. Consumers protect yourselves. Do not subcribe to anything, but continuosly be skeptical of everything. You are your brothers keeper. The government is not your friend, just an institution like any other institution consumed with self interest, except this one's legitimized by "the people". If only Lumosity was a "big lobby" the government/FTC would know its place in handling this situation, right Bridget?

I do not like Auto renewal however, send me the notice it is due and I will choose to renew or not. I see nothing wrong with paying for a service. I had a stroke and had trouble doing any kind of paperwork. Lumosity has helped me toward normal thinking and the challenges I face daily.

Perhaps they made unsubstantiated claims - but that doesn't mean the games have no value. I've used Lumosity for several years and HAVE seen a benefit. I'd always read that keeping busy mentally is good for older people. Articles on aging suggested activities like crossword puzzles and game shows. Has this thinking all been discarded recently?

I'd also heard that taking on new, challenging tasks - such as learning a new language or computer system, or running an intense work or volunteer program that required problem-solving skills - could stimulate the brain to develop new connections. Has that been disproved as well? I'm not defending these guys, I don't know them from Adam but it's common sense that using your mind and getting physical exercise (instead of sitting on your butt in front of the TV and eating) help most people stay alert longer.

I find it curious that the government goes after something like Luminosity, yet the FDA lets Premarin remain on the market. a hormone substitute that is KNOWN to cause uterine and ovarian cancer. Known. It killed my mother. It ought to be banned and the executives at Pfizer put in prison.

I'm with OldCodger-- perhaps Lumosity got greedy and overstated claims, but I have been following the science regarding brain plasticity and it all points to the positive effects of novelty, risk and challenge, continuous use of the brain in the "zone of proximity" of learning. I consider myself a savvy consumer and quite skeptical, so I did my own research before signing up for Lumosity. As I read the notice Lumosity was required to send, and then the FTC site's summary of the charges and settlement, I couldn't help wondering the same thing you did, OldCodger, about all the MANY HORRIBLE products and their claims put out by Big Pharma, not to mention cars, cosmetics, home products, toys, etc. that are actively toxic, maiming and killing people. And they, FTC, rake in the millions (who gets that money?) from a company that provides progressive brain stimulation that has, at the very least, positive benefits for the people who use it. I can only imagine the outrage you must feel having had your own mother die due to the use of one such product, OldCodger.

I never believed that Lumosity could help prevent age-related cognitive issues, except the way other things I do (play Sudoku, exercise, memorize songs) help. I do enjoy the games, though. What I like, though, is being able to compare how I am doing against other people my age. I do not know how the scoring is done, but I have to assume that it is internally accurate (that is, they set up a scoring system for all their games and for different ages, and apply them consistently).


What does Lumosity's Flexibility measure? - Psychology

What people are learning: 35+ mini-games designed to improve general brain function in the areas of memory, speed, attention, flexibility, and problem-solving, although not all games are of equal caliber or likeliness to improve any cognitive function.

So-called "brain games" have become big business since the break-out success of the Brain Age series first released on the Nintendo DS in 2006. The idea that 20 minutes a day with a casual game could have wide-ranging effects, from small benefits like making a person better at remembering names, to huge consequences, like helping to stave off dementia in the elderly, is promise that we would all like to see realized. And it's not an unrealistic promise. We know that games possess the potential to exploit the brain's natural plasticity and to both alter and improve cognitive functioning in some very modest sense. Board games like chess, go, and mancala, which all have histories dating back hundreds if not thousands of years, have been scientifically scrutinized in the modern age and proven to have some positive effects on skilled players' memory, problem-solving, and resistance to age-related mental decline. And many video games, even of the non-educational variety like the fantasy role-playing behemoth World of Warcraft, have been shown through scientific studies to provide cognitive benefits

Hence the very idea of games having positive cognitive effects is already a matter of science fact, not just science fiction. But for all of the many video game developers who have jumped on the this recent brain-game bandwagon, none have been able to show that their particular games offer real, scientifically validated cognitive effects. Lumosity, however, wants to be different. Lumosity has entered the fray with considerably more neuroscience under its belt than most of its competitors. One of the company’s three founders is neuroscientist Michael Scanlon, a Stanford Ph.D., and Lumosity prominently proclaims partnership with such reputable and prestigious research institutes as Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, and Columbia University on their website. Moreover, Lumosity claims that its games are "clinically proven exercises" that can improve players' memory and attention, and they offer "challenges and tasks shown in experiments to produce significant improvements in cognitive performance." But is Lumosity really different from any other casual brain training games, or are they simply better at mobilizing vague scientific promises in their marketing campaign? It is clear that Lumosity seems poised to become one of the next leading purveyors of "brain games," and they've invested heavily in marketing themselves as such. So with the self-hype working in overdrive, I decided to put Lumosity to the test and see if these games could really deliver.


The Training Experience: Lifelong Health or Lifelong Research Subject?

Pick a training program to suit your needs, but not if you're under 18.
Before getting into the details of the games themselves, it's worth noting that Lumosity is selling more than just a few casual web-games. Lumosity.com is a website that offers something more akin to a whole fitness/training program: multi-week training courses, performance-tracking, social-networking, the ability to compare results with other users. First time users are asked what areas of cognition they want to improve and Lumosity chooses a training program that best suits those needs. Of course, few of the choices seem likely to be left unselected. Who doesn't want to be better at "keeping track of several ideas at the same time" or "concentrating while learning something new?" But it is certainly possible for members to want to emphasize improving memory over calculating figures or being faster at decision-making.

As users progress in their training programs and play more games on the site, various measurement rubrics are applied to the results of their performance. Some of these are as simple as tracking your high scores in each game, which allows players to easily see when their performance improves at a particular game. Other measures of performance are more obscure, however. For example, Lumosity has invented a measure called a Brain Performance Index, or BPI. This is supposedly "a clinically designed measure" of cognitive performance that uses and undisclosed proprietary algorithm to translate game scores into some indication of cognitive function. There are also newly added "Assessment" tests, which assign scores based on performance, but gives absolutely no interpretation of those scores. Another was of measuring brain-power is the "brain Grade" test, which seemed like a thinly veiled means of collecting player data about personal lifestyle habits and other demographic information.

All of the various test and measurements can be overwhelming, especially as some seem decidedly more arbitrary than others, but the idea of regularly measuring your fitness fits in with the overall image that's promoted by the Lumosity site: these exercises are contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Nearly every page of the site contains health "tips" that encourage users to train their brains and train them often. "Did you know?" the site asks rhetorically before each tip. "Did you know? The ACTIVE study, funded by the NIH and involving 2832 adults, found that some benefits of cognitive training can last over five years after the initial training." The implication here is clear: train with Lumosity for life-long health benefits.

Books and barbells: Lumosity is so serious about fitness!
But who really has the most to benefit from regularly training with Lumosity? The truth isn't as obvious as it may seem. At first blush, it seems almost self-evident that subscribers themselves have the most to gain from regular training. After all, every time a member plays one of these games he or she is purportedly building brain fitness. And just like a regular gym membership, regular users ostensibly get the most health benefits at the same time that they are getting the most value for their dollar--a member pays just as much to use the site once as does the person who might use the site 100 times. So frugal members and fitness junkies might see it as to their advantage to play a lot and play often, but they may just want to reconsider that plan.

What may not be abundantly obvious to Lumosity subscribers is the fact that Lumosity itself has quite a bit to gain from subscribers who log into the site and play the games frequently. Besides their obvious interest in seeing users become habituated to playing these games and renewing their subscriptions, the company gets a second, much less visible benefit from regular site-users: more data to analyze and sell. Players' user and performance data is rigorously tracked by Lumosity. This data is then utilized for the company's own aggressive targeted advertising, as well as sold to various undisclosed third parties. It's right there in the Privacy Policy.

Lumosity does at least disclose their data collection practices in the Privacy Policy, but it's because Lumosity markets itself as an educational and scientific enterprise that I found their collection and redistribution of player data to be rather unsettling. As discomfiting as it is to know that many purely commercial entities like Facebook and chain stores like Target have little compunction when it comes to collecting data about our shopping habits and personal preferences, Lumosity is commercializing what essentially amounts to human behavioral research, and this move strikes me as taking the invasion of consumer privacy to a new level. They've turned a long-standing model of research on its head: instead of paying people to be their human lab rats, they're getting the rats pay them. And the data Lumosity gathers is hardly done in the interest of advancing pure science or public health. The company can use the collected player data however it likes, whether that's to improve it's own games, develop training programs for the military, or sell it to third parties and outside researchers.

Even if the majority of adult players may not be overly concerned about the use of their game data, those who are considering the Lumosity suite of games for their children should know that because of these data collection practices, it is against Lumosity's Terms of Service for children under 18 to use Lumosity's games. Thanks to the Children's Online Privacy Protect Act, websites are strictly limited in what kinds of data they can collect from children, and the FTC has become more involved recently in fining children's app developers for violating these privacy laws. Because of this, Lumosity specifically notes that "the Site and the Software are not designed for or directed at children the subject matter of the Site is not designed for or directed at children and the content, including any video or audio, on the Site is not designed for or directed at children." But there is a fair amount of doublespeak involved on this point. At the same time that the Privacy Policy makes explicit the fact that children should not use the site, the site has "Scholar" training programs that are designed for use by "students." And in the sparse scientific data presented in their "Science Behind Lumosity" the Lumosity shows to substantiate it's claims to efficacy, middle-school aged children were the demographic that their studies tested. So the unwary parent should take note that despite any appearances to the contrary, Lumosity's all-encompassing data collection practices that make this educational gaming site off-limits to the under-18 crowd.

Lumosity boasts having 35+ games available on their site, a full list of which appears at the end of this review. Some of the games are quite similar, however. Games like Addition Storm, Subtraction Storm, Multiplication Storm, Division Storm, and Raindrops are all identical in gameplay, and games like Color Match, Memory Lane, Memory Match, Memory Match Overload, Speed Match, Spatial Speed Match, Rhyme Workout also have nearly identical gameplay. Overall, I would consider the number of truly unique games to be somewhere in the high teens or low 20's. I did play each game at least once, however, the review below only highlights a sampling of game from each of the five categories of mental fitness that Lumosity utilizes: Memory, Attention, Speed, Flexibility, and Problem Solving. Some of these games are actually available to play for free if you register for a 3-day trial, so you can test them out for yourself, but I have also made an effort to include many of the games that are restricted to paying members.

Lumosity lets you customize your brain training across five different areas and tracks your results in each category.

I also enrolled in three training programs, the 40-day Basic Training course, 30-day Lumosity PTSD course, and the 30-day Lumosity Scholar course, simply to see how the offering varied from program to program. These training programs are helpful for ensuring that players don't simply stick to their favorite games, but beyond that, it was hard to see any clear logic behind what games were chosen for each program. It was not uncommon to play the some of the same games in each of the programs. For example, Day 1 of the PTDS program and the Lumosity Scholar games both included rounds of the flexibility game Word Bubbles and the memory game Monster Garden. Your mileage may vary with the training programs.

Alas, Japanaese 101 this game is not.
Speed Match (Speed)
Lumosity says: used for thinking faster, faster reaction time, speeding up cognitive processes, and also exercises working memory.

Speed Match shows players various symbols (colored shapes, multicolored bullseyes, or japanese kanji) and then players have to determine whether or not the symbol they are currently viewing matches the symbol presented to them just before. Players are then scored based on their speed and accuracy.

There are only three possible symbols that appear, and the symbols are easily distinguishable from one another, making this a game of reflexes more than anything else. Although it bears a resemblance to an n-Back test, which is known to help improve memory and fluid intelligence, this is the watered down version of that. The goal here isn't to remember the symbols, but to respond quickly. It's not an especially entertaining game to play, but a round is quite short, so there's not much of a time investment involved in trying to improve on your previous scores. At the same time, it's also not really clear that playing this game can really "speed up cognitive processes." There are plenty of reflex-based twitch games, like the side-scrolling space shooters that used to dominate the arcade scene, many of which are more exciting and have more replay value than Speed Match, and they seem just as capable of facilitating thinking faster and having faster reaction times.


Actually running on ice may be less difficult than this maze.
Penguin Pursuit (Speed)
Lumosity says: used for sense of direction, visualization, reading maps, and for exercising spatial recall.

What starts out as a simple navigate-the-maze game quickly turns into an experience in disorientation and, initially at least, in frustration. The premise of Penguin Pursuit is simple: you are a penguin that been placed in a maze. You have to race against a rival penguin and be the first to reach the delicious fish waiting for you at the end of the maze. The faster you outpace your rival, the higher your score for that round. It sounds easy, but just like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, there's a twist. As you progress through the maze, the maze will suddenly and unexpectedly rotate. When it does, the control scheme also changes as well. The right arrow may move your penguin left, or maybe up. Likewise, pressing the up arrow might suddenly make your penguin move down, or to the right. The trick to success in this game is being able to adapt to the constantly changing control scheme as rapidly as possible.

The first time I played Penguin Pursuit, I was embarrassingly unable to adapt to the change in controls. My score for the first playthrough was a whopping 178 points. However, the very next time I played, I managed to get a score of 19160 points. That's not a typo, I really did do several orders of magnitude better the second time I played. And the third time, my score was also drastically improved: 33280. I can't easily account for my dramatic improvement except to say that it's simply a matter of intuiting the mechanics of the game. It clearly wasn't a result of my brain training or of suddenly improved reaction speeds, since I played the first two matches consecutively. Rather, it seems that Penguin Pursuit relies on your brain unconsciously adapting to the new control scheme. In other words, it's like a gestalt switch: your brain either "gets" the new control scheme, or it doesn't. It's not clear that you can really think your way through it. You just have to play until your brain adapts and gets it right.

But does that adaptation constitute improved brain function? Certainly, an unconscious leap in thinking took place, which is undoubtedly qualifies as some form of learning. But is that kind of learning something that can be applied to anything beyond the playing of Penguin Pursuit? I'm not sure. Learning how to play the game isn't the same as learning skills that have applicability outside of the game's context. Penguin Pursuit is certainly challenging, and it's satisfying to overcome that challenge and move the your penguin toward his reward. But what would make it even more rewarding would be to know that studies have verified that mastery over this difficult game is truly indicative of improved visualization, spatial recall, and the like. My drastic improvement between matches makes me skeptical that the trick of this game is anything more than simply learning the game, but there's no denying that some kind of mental flexibility is required to excel at this game.


Clip-art from a diversity-in-the-workplace seminar lives on.
Familiar Faces (Memory)
Lumosity says: used for learning people's names for the first time remembering the name of someone you've met, and for exercising working memory.

This game is a prosopagnosiac's nightmare. You play the waiter/waitress at a restaurant. Various characters come into your establishment and you must learn their names and remember their food and drink orders. At first, this is a fairly simple activity. You mostly have to be concerned with remembering the character's names, as the food orders are pretty much impossible to mess up. As you advance to higher levels (which you can generally only do when you complete a perfect round at your current level), the game gets considerably more challenging, as the cast of customers continues to grow, more orders are placed at a time, and red-herring orders will appear in your list of options.

I've always been downright awful at memorizing things, which made the whole idea behind this game initially daunting to me. However, after playing it a few times, I was surprised to find that it was one of the Lumosity games that I enjoyed the most in the end. The difficulty level of the game ramps up slowly, giving you a chance to really learn the current set of customers before more get thrown at you. And even if the customers are just pretend, I found myself being surprisingly satisfied when I got their names right. That alone made the game rewarding enough to me that I wanted to continue playing.

While Familiar Faces was a reasonably entertaining game, I do have my doubts about whether playing this game can actually improve a player's day-to-day ability to learn new names and faces. All the things that make it an entertaining game are also what make it significantly different from what one would experience in real life trying to remember people's names. For one thing, letting a few days pass between plays is a deadly mistake. The greatest advantage you have as a player is the potential for unlimited repetition. Characters' names don't change between game sessions, so you can keep playing previous levels over and over again until their faces and outfits are seared into your short-term memory. Also unlike real life, while playing the game, you have the luxury of making up zany mnemonics for each customer and saying them aloud. Of course, while repetition, mnemonics, and saying things aloud are good memorization techniques to use in your everyday life, you have to be much more discreet in real life than you can be playing a game. For example, I suspect saying my "Looney Linda with a feather in her hair" mnemonic aloud wouldn't go over well if I were meeting this character in person. So enjoy the entertainment value which Familiar Face's role-playing aspects bring to the game, but don't expect to be a real-life name-remembering whiz by playing this.


Hey, haven't I seen you before? Like, about 2 seconds ago?

Lumosity says: used for learning people's names for the first time, remembering the name of someone you've met, and for exercising working memory.

Of the five gaming categories offered on the Lumosity site, the memory category has the greatest number of games. Although spatial and working memory games are well-represented, the site places a lot of emphasis on games featuring face-name recall, which, practical as that may be, ultimately comes off as a bit gimmicky, as in the above reviewed Familiar Faces. However, while the focus on human faces in Face Memory Workout is little more than a catchy hook, the mechanics behind the game do rest on a proven tool for boosting working memory, the n-Back test.

In n-Back tests, the challenge is not simply matter of recalling the previous symbol just shown, but the previous nth symbol just shown. That is, does the current symbol match what you saw two symbols ago? Three? Four? In Face Memory Workout, players' memories and reflexes are tested as various different faces are shown one after another on the screen, and players have to remember if the currently highlighted face matches a face they had previously seen. On the earliest level, players only have to match the current face to the one previously viewed, making the game identical to the Speed Match games. However, as the "workout" progresses, players are challenged not simply to identify whether the current face matches the one they've just seen, but instead they have to remember if it matches the face they saw two or even three faces previously. Players are then ranked based on how quick they are in making their determination, and based on how accurate their answers are.

The n-Back test features heavily in the memory games of the site, including Memory Lane, Memory Match, Memory Match Overload, and Rhyme Workout, and there's good reason for this. These tests, which are believed to exercise working memory and attention, have been shown to have positive affects in fluid intelligence. That is, success here can translate to better ability to perform unrelated cognitive tasks, or to "to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge." For more on these findings, you can see the original 2008 research paper here.

Yet, even while the memory games listed above represent Lumosity's strongest claims for scientifically valid brain "exercise," almost all of them they still fall shy of the complexity of the kinds of n-Back tests that have shown the most considerable results. Dual n-Back tests, for example, require players to remember not just a single visual image, but an image and a sound. Only one Lumosity game, Memory Lane, actually uses this technique. I suspect this is because n-Back tests, and Dual n-Back tests in particular, are truly difficult. Playing one doesn't feel like a pleasant pastime it feels like a workout. And while Lumosity is supposed to be offering just this workout, in many ways, their emphasis on accessibility is giving their customers the short end of the stick. The most cognitive gains are to be made with the more challenging tests, and Lumosity's offerings in this respect are no better than what is already freely available online. The researchers who originally showed the value of n-back and dual n-back tests offer their program as a free download from their site at the University of Bern. There are also many n-back tests freely available these days, including an open-source downloadable version here, and a very nice, simple online version here.

Blandly dressed up psychological tests aren't very fun.
Lost in Migration (Attention)
Lumosity says: used for avoiding distraction, increasing work productivity, concentration, and for exercising response inhibition.

Lost in Migration is another reflexed based twitch-game, along the same lines as Speed Match, but this time presented with a rather bland bird theme. A flock of birds appears on the screen, and players must use the arrow key corresponding to the direction in which the center bird is facing. The trick is to not get distracted by the direction of the other birds in the flock. Only the center bird's direction matters. The faster and more accurate your answers are, the greater your score will increase.

This "game" is actually a variant of the Eriksen flanker test, which Lumosity describes as "a widely used and rigorously tested psychometric assessment." This it is, but it is not considered a psychological training device. The test is used to primarily to identify impaired brain function in a clinical context, but there is no evidence that this test has any usefulness as a training tool or that improving scores are generalizable to some other kind of brain fitness or life skill. While it certainly can't hurt to try and sharpen your reflexes by playing this game, whether this has measurable effects beyond improving one's score is doubtful.

It would also seem doubtful to expect much success in trying to improve over time, no matter how much you practice this game. Success here depends largely on sharp reflexes, and you can expect to plateau on this game very quickly. Despite Lumosity's advertised emphasis on "adaptive learning" in their games, Lost In Migration doesn't ever change as you become more practiced at it, and it never offers more challenge. Interestingly, the little research that exists on practiced use of flanker test suggests that the best way to improve performance at this game isn't to keep training your brain, but rather to get your body moving. Studies have shown that participating in moderate physical activity can temporarily boost flanker test reaction time. So if you're only interest in playing is to Lost In Migration is to achieve the best score, get up out of your computer chair and jog in place while you play. However, I'd recommend you skip this flanker test altogether and just go for a jog. Your brain will probably be better for it.

Wearing nametags apparently goes against fish-etiquette.
Playing Koi (Attention)

Lumosity says: used for avoiding distraction, increasing work productivity, concentration, and for exercising response inhibition.

Many of the attention games in Lumosity's arsenal I found to be quite easy, to the extent that they were pretty mindless and not at all fun to play. As an avid gamer, it's entirely possibly that I'm more attuned to tacking visual changes than non-gamers, so my impressions may differ from a majority of Lumosity users. But games like Lost in Migration (above) and Eagle Eye were painfully simplistic to me. They hardly felt like games, and were neither stimulating nor rewarding. Unless the purpose of these attention games was to make player perform a mindlessly repetitious task time and time again, then maybe they are successful in that respect. But the contrast in the weakness of most of the attention games is painfully noticeable when they're compared to the much more enjoyable and inventive (not to mention cleverly titled) game, Playing Koi.

In the game, players are tasked with feeding all the koi in a pond once a day. The fish are all identical in appearance, and players must click on each fish once and only once in order to feed it for the day. With each new round, the number of fish in the pond increases. The first level is fairly simple: three fish become seven by the level's end, and while tracking the fish did require concentration, it didn't strike me as overly difficulty. But as players master one level, harder levels are unlocked (the game has five levels in total). More distractions appear: certain types of fish should not be fed and lilypads block your line of site. The number of koi in need of feeding grows, the fish swim more erratically, and the time you have to wait between each feeding is extended. All these factors combined makes it that much easier to lose track and feed one you've already fed.

The pleasingly soothing artwork belies the genuine tension involved in playing the game: Playing Koi absolutely require focus, and a lot of it. Even slightest waiver in focus spells doom, as it only takes a split second to lose track of that last fish that needs to be fed, and I found myself scrunching my face into all kinds of comic contortions as I desperately tried to track ten increasingly wriggly koi fish around the pond. There is little doubt here that success in this game hinges on your ability to stay on task, and each near-perfect round lends plenty of motivation to try again. I think the strength of this particular game is that it seems to always remain just challenging enough to make that perfect game elusive, but not so challenging that success seems impossible.

However, as with Lost In Migration, I do worry that there is a plateau effect at work here as well. No matter how many times I played, I didn't see myself doing that much better than my initial playthrough. I can complete all five levels, but by the fourth, I invariably start to lose track of a fish or two before the end of the round. I still end up with a decent score, but no amount of practicing could make me consistently able to score a perfect game on the most challenging levels. Attention is a something that can be improved over time, and I would like to believe that Playing Koi is a game where repeated practice could really pay off, but the feeling that I had reached my own personal limit made me doubt that the game could transform me into some kind of heroic, super-human master of attention like a Jason Bourne or Shawn Spencer. Even so, I readily concede feeding fish has never been so fun.

Word Bubbles (Flexibility)
Lumosity says: used for language, tip-of-the-tongue word finding, thinking outside of the box, and for exercising information processing.

Described as Lumosity's most popular game, Word Bubbles gives players a three letter prompt and they are tasked with creating as may words as possible starting with those three letters. Word length counts, and players only receive points for the first three words of the same length that they create. Know at least a dozen six-letter words that begin with the letters d-r-e? Well, you're out of luck because only three will count! While the limits on the number of words of any length can be inhibiting, it also introduces an element of strategy into the game. Instead of just typing blindly every word you can think of, you get better scores for being able to "max out" each length category. It's a small strategic element, but it certainly helps keep the game from feeling like a stale vocabulary lesson.

Word Bubbles challenges players to probe the recesses of their memories and find words, both common and uncommon, to fill out their list. In this respect, the game is an exercise in both memory and vocabulary. For example, who knew that I had the word "vertiginously" locked away in my little mind? I didn't, but when v-e-r was my Word Bubbles prompt, out it sprang like a fully formed Athena. Who knows, maybe I'll even get to use it conversationally at some point, now that it's been moved up into my conscious memory. But aside from the occasional serendipitous discovery of a word you though you had long lost, Word Bubbles doesn't obviously contribute to expanding your vocabulary. If a prefix stumps you, there's little in the game that will make you likely to succeed the next time the prefix comes around. User CoolCat put it best in the player-provided tip section, "Active reading, such as texts, novels and newspapers, builds greater word vocabulary and better scores." In other words, it's what you do outside of the game that's most likely to help you succeed at Word Bubbles.

Brain Shift and Brain Shift Overdrive (Flexibility)
Lumosity says: used for multitasking, shifting your focus of attention, cognitive control, and for exercising information processing.

Brain Shift is a game that is supposed to help your brain shift gears from one task to another. In the basic version of the game, players are shown both a letter and a number. If this letter/number combination appear in the top box, players must answer yes or no as to whether the number is an even number. If the letter/number combination appears in the bottom box, player must decide, yes or no, if the letter is a vowel. In the Overdrive version of the game, the basic gameplay is the same, only there are four boxes, and players must respond yes or no to the following questions, depending on which box the letter/number combination appears in: is the number even, is the number odd, is the letter a vowel, is the letter a consonant?

The point of the game seems to be to train your brain to respond quickly to shifting evaluative criteria. In order to be successful, player must remember what question each box asks of the letter/number combination and then correctly evaluate whether that letter/number combination meets the criteria. And while the criteria are simple, it is in fact quite challenging to shift mental gears and provide a quick an accurate answer. Practice certainly helps, and the best scores seem to come from those moments when your focus and rhythm are in perfect sync.

While it is satisfying to feel that sense of "flow" while playing the Brain Shift games, it's not clear if there are lasting or meaningful cognitive benefits to be derived from the game. Multi-tasking is one of the defining buzzwords of the twenty-first century, but most research suggests that our brains are not especially designed for this function. When we try to multitask, or constantly switch our attention back and forth between two tasks, we are in fact not really paying attention to either activity. We're not actually multitasking at all, we're simply distracted. And it's not clear that our brains can be "trained" to be truly effective multitaskers. So while the Brain Shift games are certainly challenging, it's not actually clear if meeting the challenge of these games is going to make a player better able to "adapt to changing circumstances" or "respond to the spontaneity of daily life," as Lumosity claims it will.

Ho-hum. It's like being in grade school all over again.
Raindrops (Problem Solving)
Lumosity says: used for mental calculations, increased aptitude with numbers, making estimates, and for exercising quantitative reasoning.

As was the case with almost all of the games in the "Problem Solving" category, Raindrops is basically a timed math test. Equations are encapsulated in rain drops which fall slowly to the ground. Players must solve the equation and enter the correct answer before the raindrop reaches the ground. The better player do, the more raindrops fall and the more challenging the equations become ( 5+1 versus 34-16). In Raindrops, all math functions are fair game (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), which makes it somewhat more challenging that the other math games on the site. Scores are calculated base on the number of equations per minute solved, the total number of problems solved, accuracy overall, and accuracy under pressure.

There's little doubt that playing this game repeatedly should boost your mental math skills a bit. When your multiplication tables are rusty, practice helps refreshen the memory. And the speed component will definitely push finger-counters to brush up on their addition and subtraction skills. But these games won't make anyone a math whiz, and the claim that these exercises are even an exercise in the cognitive function of "problem solving" seems a bit of a misnomer. Strictly speaking, player are solving math problems, but I tend to think of "problem solving" as a category of mental functioning to be something a bit broader than simply mathematical ability. As simple math-trainers, these games will do the task, but there are plenty of other math-trainers available freely online. Raindrops is neither overly fun nor overly exceptional in the realm of math games.

By the Rules (Problem Solving)
Lumosity says: used for pattern recognition, dissecting complex arguments, problem solving, and for exercising task switching.

By The Rules, and it's clone game, Word Sort, are games that seem to be pulled straight out of an SAT test. In By the Rules, players are presented with a card that has a colored shape on it. They then have to decide with this shape follows the hidden sorting rule for the round. For the first card of each round, the player is simply guessing. But based on whether or not that guess is correct, the player can make an educated guess about how the second card should be sorted. For example, if the first card is a green circle, I might guess that it follows the rule. If I am correct, then when the next card comes up as a red circle, I know that if this card follows the rule, then the rule is "circles." If, however, that second card doesn't follow the rule, then the rule is "the color green." By process of elimination, players should quickly be able to figure out the rule for each round. The player moves on to the next rule after he or she sorts six consecutive cards correctly.

The game is essentially a logic puzzle, but it's a fairly simplistic one. In fact, despite what I said above, I feel fairly certain that the SAT Reasoning Test offers much more challenging logic puzzles, for which the meager pattern recognition exercise employed in By The Rules wouldn't really prepare you. As I've said with some of the other games reviewed above, Lumosity has clearly worked hard to ensure that their games are accessible to all levels of players. There's nothing wrong with this--at least not a a starting point--but the problem is that many of these games never really push players to grow and excel.

Despite the fact that "adaptive learning" is supposed to be one of the innovations of the Lumosity site, it is quite disappointing to see that many of these games do not in fact adjust in difficulty as response to a player's performance. Virtually none of them respond "on a moment-to-moment basis" as the site claims, and even those with a difficulty structure based on a level-up system don't necessarily become that much more difficult. By The Rules, for example, simply adds more types of cards to the mix, like shapes colored in with a gradient, or some have no fill color at all but are just a shape outline. This means that it takes longer to deduce the rules because there are more possibilities than before, but the cognitive processes used to uncover the rules hardly change at all.

This kind of soft-handed approach to increasing difficulty really undermines the entire purpose of the site. The brain, just like our muscles, grows in response to challenge. Lifting a 2 pound weigh 100 times isn't going to do as much for your physical strength as lifting a 20 pound weight ten times. Likewise, we may be more likely to play a game repeatedly because cognitively, it's relatively easy for us, but the fact that it has become easy tells us that we're not learning from it anymore, and it is almost certain that we're not gaining the kind of mental fitness that will transfer into other mental activities. In the case of By the Rules, I would be downright shocked if there were actually clinical proof that this game was in any way improving my ability to dissect complex argument, even though Lumosity claims just such a mental benefit. I suspect a virtual chess game would serve players better as a tool for improving pattern recognition and problem solving, although it wouldn't be as slickly marketable.

Even for those of us who already believe that games posses the ability to be powerful learning tools, I'm always wary of products that seem to invoke the power of "science" in their advertising, as though just speaking the very word can serve as a magical incantation, giving legitimacy and validity to all of one's to one's pie-in-the-sky claims. My experience with Lumosity did nothing to quell those suspicions. In fact, Lumosity seems to be to "brain fitness" as the Nintendo Wii is to physical fitness. If you're serious about fitness, you are probably better off running on a treadmill instead of hula hooping on WiiFit, and if you're serious about keeping your mind sharp, you'll benefit just as much, if not more, from reading a book, learning or practicing a foreign language, doing a few math problems each day, or playing your favorite casual puzzle game, be it a crossword puzzle or Tetris.

There is no doubt that people can and do learn from games and that some games may be particularly well-suited to improving certain categories of cognitive functioning like attention, memory, spatial orientation, perceptual speed, etc. But saying that Lumosity's games are any more sophisticated or better at increasing "mental fitness" or "intelligence" than the hundreds of other games that one might play strikes me as all too reminiscent of those diet pills that you see advertised on late night tv: "Clinically tested! Eat all you want and never gain weight!" If you feel like you don't get enough mental stimulation from your daily life, you like puzzle games, and you need the idea of a structured "training program" and incessant emails reminding you to "work out" your brain, then by all means, a subscription to Lumosity might be good for you. But if you think Lumosity games are going to change your life or make you the brainiac you always fantasized about being, then expect to be disappointed.

Lumosity is sleek, polished, and provides a reasonably entertaining diversion for someone who already enjoys puzzle games. I personally felt that there wasn't really enough diversity in the games to justify the $15/month price tag, but I'm also not a huge puzzle-game player, so that might be a matter of personal preference. My biggest reservation about Lumosity is not a complaint about the quality of the games as casual puzzle games, it's that Lumosity markets them as so much more than that. If Lumosity were content with being a casual, if vaguely educational, puzzle game site, it would be easy to endorse their product as some harmless fun. I could readily concede that their games might be a bit more of a cognitive workout than the average round of Bejewelled or Plants vs. Zombies. However, it concerns me that Lumosity takes their claims about proven cognitive benefits too far, and their attempts to market themselves as working in partnership with major medical and academic researcher makes their their aggressive data collection practices seem outright predatory.


The error page you see when you seek to learn more about Lumosity's "proven results."

After doing some independent research, including searches of major medical and neuroscience research journal databases, I was only able to locate one peer-reviewed study that specifically tested the cognitive benefits of Lumosity games. You can read the published article for yourself here. In a nutshell, this particular study focused on cognitive rehabilitation of children suffering from post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, also referred to colloquially as "chemo-fog." As such, the study was designed less as a general test of the effectiveness of Lumosity as a brain-strengthening regime, and more about its capacity to serve as suitable rehabilitative therapy for children fighting cancer. The findings did indicate that some Lumosity games seemed capable of rehabilitating specific cognitive skills back to their pre-cancer-treatment levels, which is obviously a promising finding for children undergoing chemotherapy, but it is a considerably more modest finding than the claims to generalized brain-boosting power which are plastered all over the Lumosity website. Also notable is the study's finding that in several categories, training with Lumosity games had no effect on the children's cognitive skills.

While consumers can easily avoid Lumosity's shady shenanigans and look elsewhere for their mental stimulation, educational game developers should take note of the effect that aggressive marketers like Lumosity may be doing to our industry. In the short run, Lumosity may be successful at building up a user base and even recruiting new players through their ads. However, I cannot help but think that a backlash will be inevitable. There is a strong case to be made for the educational value of games, but in the long run, overstating the efficacy of our games is certain to increase the cynicism of the very people we want to play them. In light of the lack of genuinely rigorous clinical research, Lumosity appears to playing fast and loose with the claims of being "clinically proven" and that their program represents "science that works." These claims may not be entirely spurious, but they're certainly exaggerated. And while there will always be some people who will fall for pure hype, all present and future educational game-makers will be hurt if over-the-top marketing claims destroy consumer trust. If more "brain game" companies like Lumosity continue to use the mantra of "science" as a means of distracting consumers from their overtly commercial interests, both researchers and game developers may find that they no longer have an audience for their work, no matter how innovative or well-intentioned it may be.


Pros: A varied selection of polished puzzle games and brain-teaser style games. Training programs make it easy to "work-out" every day. Tracks your high scores and lets players see their progress over time.


Cons: The number of unique games is significantly less than 35, as many games are very similar if not identical in gameplay. Games are marketed with vague claims about "stronger brains" and "mental fitness" that are misleading and pseudoscientific. Enrolled users become unwitting guinea pigs for targeted marketing and third-party research.




Score: C-

Penguin Pursuit, spatial orientation (Speed)
Rotation Matrix, spatial orientation (Speed)
Speed Match, information processing (Speed)
Spatial Speed Match, information processing (Speed)

Birdwatching, visual field (Attention)
Eagle Eye, visual field (Attention)
Lost in Migration, focus (Attention)
Observation Tower, visual field (Attention)
Playing Koi, focus (Attention)
Space Junk, visual field (Attention)
Top Chimp, visual field (Attention)

Addition Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
By the Rules, logical reasoning (Problem Solving)
Word Sort, logical reasoning (Problem Solving)
Chalkboard Challenge, quantitative reasoning (Problem Solving)
Division Storm, quantitative reasoning (Problem Solving)
Multiplication Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
Raindrops, arithmetic (Problem Solving)
Subtraction Storm, arithmetic (Problem Solving)

Face Memory Workout, face-name recall (Memory)
Familiar Faces, face-name recall (Memory)
Memory Lane, working memory (Memory)
Memory Match, working memory (Memory)
Memory Match Overload, working memory (Memory)
Memory Matrix, spatial recall (Memory)
Moneycomb, spatial recall (Memory)
Monster Garden, working memory (Memory)
Name Tag, face-name recall (Memory)
Rhyme Workout, working memory (Memory)

Brain Shift, task switching (Flexibility)
Brain Shift Overdrive, task switching (Flexibility)
Color Match, response inhibition (Flexibility)
Disconnection, task switching (Flexibility)
Disillusion, task switching (Flexibility)
Route to Sprout, planning (Flexibility)
Word Bubbles, verbal fluency (Flexibility)
Word Bubbles Rising, verbal fluency (Flexibility)


Lumosity

The company raised $400,000 in capital from angel investors in 2007, [6] a Series A of $3 million from Harrison Metal Capital, FirstMark Capital and Norwest Venture Partners in 2008, [7] a Series C of $32.5 million led by Menlo Ventures, [8] and a Series D of $31.5 million led by Discovery Communications with participation from existing investors. [9]

On January 5, 2016, Lumos Labs agreed to a $50 million settlement (reduced to $2 million subject to financial verification) to the Federal Trade Commission over claims of false advertising for their product. The Commission found that Lumosity's marketing "preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease", without providing any scientific evidence to back its claims. The company was ordered not to make any claims that its products can "[improve] performance in school, at work, or in athletics" or "[delay or protect] against age-related decline in memory or other cognitive function, including mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease", or "[reduce] cognitive impairment caused by health conditions, including Turner syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, or side effects of chemotherapy", without "competent and reliable scientific evidence". [10] [11] [12]

There is no good medical evidence to support claims that memory training helps people improve cognitive functioning. [13]


How Luminous Is The Lumosity Performance Index?

The Lumosity Performance Index (LPI) is the proprietary scale of the online brain training and research company ‘Lumosity.’ It constitutes: the game LPI, the area LPI, and the overall LPI. The overall LPI is directly averaged from all game LPIs in the five separate cognitive areas: (1) Speed Processing, (2) Memory, (3) Attention, (4) Flexibility, and (5) Problem Solving. Each area LPI is averaged from the relevant game LPIs. Each game LPI is (re)calculated every time you play the game, giving you the malleability to move upward, and ultimately, increase your overall LPI. For this reason, I believe its test-retest reliability is inherently contradicted, complicating further psychometric research into any use of LPI as a cognitive assessment — unlike their new Brain Performance Test (BPT) to study training-related changes. The daily registration of mood and sleep patterns prior to training, could potentially be the only bright side of its test-retest reliability, as these factors are said to affect performance. This is provoking since the games are developed from actual neuropsychological tests:

Over the past year, I did regularly play (for fun) the free version — with restrictions on daily use along with limited games and basic features. Given these conditions, the LPI that I generated also cannot be comparable to that of the full version. What other consistency could we — prima facie — observe? Luckily, the website provides a brief look into its measurement scale a glance at how internal consistency could be analyzed. For example:

Why the scrutiny? The LPI was formerly known as the Brain Performance Index (BPI). The algorithm along with marketing of the scale drastically changed last year. The reason Lumosity briefly gives is unsatisfying. Immediately, I suspected that at least part of the reason had to do with the liability issue of claiming a “Brain” Performance Index without rigorous empirical research supporting its reliability and validity. This is given the fact that they claim an assessment of your cognitive abilities, and that using the service will improve your score — only recently have they switched to LPI and implemented the separate BPT. The company still displays research showing improvements. But, it’s not about the fact that Lumosity doesn’t work, but how significant is this commercial product relative to brain training of any other kind. To date, efficacy research has shown mixed results.


Watch the video: 90 of 90 - Train of Thought - Lumosity (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Gerrit

    Frankly speaking, you are completely straight.

  2. Jayme

    I absolutely agree with you. This is a good idea. I support you.

  3. Dourg

    You know that every effect has its causes. Everything happens, everything that happens is all for the best. If it were not for this, it is not a fact that it would be better.

  4. Gabal

    Thank you, the post is really sensibly written and to the point, there is something to learn.



Write a message