|Slogan||Your brain, just brighter.|
|Type of site||Public|
|Available in||English, Spanish, German|
Lumosity is an online brain training and neuroscience research company based in San Francisco, California. Lumosity offers a brain training program consisting of more than 40 games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving. In mid-2013, the company had around 90 employees.
Lumosity (also known as Lumos Labs) was founded in 2005 by Kunal Sarkar, Michael Scanlon, and David Drescher. Lumosity.com launched in 2007 and, as of November 2013, has over 50 million members. Lumosity’s mobile app has been downloaded more than 10 million times and "is often at the top of the Apple iTunes Store’s educational-gaming category."
The company raised $400,000 in capital from angel investors in 2007, a Series A of $3 million from Harrison Metal Capital, FirstMark Capital and Norwest Venture Partners in 2008, a Series C of $32.5 million led by Menlo Ventures, and a Series D of $31.5 million led by Discovery Communications with participation from existing investors.
There is no scientific consensus on the benefits of brain training for medical conditions in the clinical environment. Studies of Lumosity's effectiveness have shown mixed results.
Some have shown benefits from the use of Lumos Labs cognitive training:
- Dr. Shelli Kesler and colleagues at Stanford University found improved cognitive performance and corresponding increases in brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex in survivors of childhood cancer following training with Lumosity. Participants who trained with Lumosity showed significantly improved processing speed, cognitive flexibility, verbal and visual declarative memory scores.
- Kesler et al. demonstrated enhanced math skills and cognitive performance with corresponding changes in brain activity in individuals with Turner syndrome following training with Lumosity.
- Kesler et al. found that women whose breast cancer had been treated with chemotherapy demonstrated improved executive function, such as cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency and processing speed after Lumosity training. This work is published in Clinical Breast Cancer.
- Psychologist Maurice Finn and Skye McDonald from the University of New South Wales found that patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who trained with Lumosity improved their sustained attention relative to controls. MCI is considered a precursor condition to Alzheimer’s disease, and this is the first report of cognitive enhancement with training in this population.
- Mayas and Colleagues found a significant reduction of distraction and an increase of alertness in eldery healthy adults after 20 one-hour training sessions using Lumosity in comparison to a control group. The authors conclude that these results suggest neurocognitive plasticity in the old human brain.
However, other studies that did not use Lumosity had mixed results. "[T]here is no scientific evidence to support a range of manufacturers' claims [including Lumosity's] that the gadgets can help improve memory or stave off the risk of illnesses such as dementia." A careful attempt to replicate the preliminary experimental results on which this enterprise is based found no effect from the training. Some have noted that the clinical trials cited on their website show that studies conducted used a very small sample size and that the methodology section fails to clearly explain how control groups were handled. Other studies have failed to demonstrate generalizable benefits of brain training. In other words, improvements shown in one field of cognitive ability has not been found to be transferrable. (This is seen most commonly in successful improvement in working memory skills, and the inability to generalize to other skills such as verbal and nonverbal ability, attention, etc.)
Meanwhile, studies have only been able to show mild changes to cognitive abilities, and no studies have shown significant findings. It is unclear whether or not the improvements are at all caused by the brain trainings, or are simply a result of the training effect -- one gets better at something with more experience. The changes that are observed are also short-lived, and it has been recommended that future studies look at the possible longevity that can be maintained from these brain trainings. This somewhat invalidates the company's claim to improve neurological plasticity, in that the only reliable improvements observed have only been short-term, while the mechanism of plasticity itself is to permanently alter the brain's neuronal transmission processes. This short-term effect can't completely disregard the possibility for long-term effects, for the studies themselves were only conducted for a specific amount of time. These cognitive improvements may find to be long-lasting with research done in longitudinal studies.
- "About Us". Lumosity.
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- Kesler, S.; Lacayo & Booil, J. (2011). "A Pilot Study of an Online Cognitive Rehabilitation Program for Executive Function Skills in Children with Cancer-Related Brain Injury". Brain Injury 25 (1): 101–112. doi:10.3109/02699052.2010.536194. PMC 3050575. PMID 21142826.
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- Kesler, S.; Hadi Hosseini, S.M.; Heckler, C.; Janelsins, M.; Palesh, O. & Mustian, K. G. (August 2013). "Cognitive Training for Improving Executive Function in Chemotherapy-Treated Breast Cancer Survivors". Clinical Breast Cancer 13 (4): 299–306. doi:10.1016/j.clbc.2013.02.004. PMC 3726272. PMID 23647804.
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- Dunning, D. L.; Holmes, J. & Gathercole, S. E. (November 2013). "Does Working Memory Training Lead to Generalized Improvements in Children with Low Working Memory? A Randomized Controlled Trial". Developmental Science 16 (6): 915–25. doi:10.1111/desc.12068. PMID 24093880.
- Chooi, W. T. & Thompson, L. A. (November–December 2012). "Working Memory Training Does Not Improve Intelligence in Healthy Young Adults". Intelligence 40: 531–542. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2012.07.004.
- Harrison, T. L.; Shipstead, Z.; Hicks, K. L.; Hambrick, D. Z.; Redick, T. S. & Engle, R. W. (December 2013). "Working Memory Training May Increase Working Memory Capacity but not Fluid Intelligence". Psychological Science 24 (12): 2409–19. doi:10.1177/0956797613492984. PMID 24091548.
- Melby-Verlag, M. & Hulme, C. (February 2013). "Is Working Memory Training Effective? A Meta-Analytic Review". Developmental Psychology 49: 270–291. doi:10.1037/a0028228. PMID 22612437.
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