Brain Training App 'Lumosity' to Pay $2 Million to Settle Deceptive Advertising Charges

Lumos Labs, the company behind the Lumosity app that promises to "challenge your brain" using a daily training program of cognitive games, will pay out $2 million to settle deceptive advertising charges brought against it by the United States Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC, Lumos Labs deceived consumers by telling them the games in Lumosity would help them perform better at work, get better scores on standardized tests, and stave off the decline of cognitive impairment related to age or disease. It also claimed its games could help with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as improving cognitive impairment associated with conditions like stroke, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, ADHD, chemotherapy, and more.

lumosity

"Lumosity preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads."

Available in the iOS App Store, Lumosity offers a selection of more than 50 cognitive games it claims were developed by scientists and game designers to train the brain. While a basic membership to access a limited number of games is free, a membership costs from $6.70 to $11.95 per month or up to $299.95 for a lifetime pass.

Lumosity TV, Internet, radio, and social media advertisements suggested customers could play the games for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times per week to achieve "full potential in every aspect of life," and falsely claimed its health related benefits were backed by scientific studies.

Lumos Labs is facing a $50 million judgement, but the FTC has agreed to suspend the full amount due to Lumos Labs' financial position. Instead, the company will pay $2 million and will agree not to make future health and performance claims without "competent and reliable scientific evidence." Lumos Labs is also ordered to notify subscribers about the FTC action and provide them with a way to cancel their subscriptions.

Lumosity is just one of many "brain training" apps available in the App Store. Elevate, another highly popular brain training app that's been highlighted by Apple, claims its app will help improve "critical cognitive skills" to "boost productivity," but it shies away from making the deceptive health-related claims that got Lumosity in hot water.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
63 months ago

Preyed on fears? How stupid are people?

Hope makes people do stupid things.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 months ago
It's a controversial area, and a difficult one to scientifically study.. with confounders of placebo effect and confirmation bias.
There are studies suggesting these apps are beneficial in certain circumstances, but even those studies have been subject to critical analysis.
Certainly it is too early to make big claims, especially about preventing disease like dementia.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 months ago

I KNEW it was a phony! It's a BIG FAT PHONY! I want my compensation!

Then why did you buy it if you knew it was fake?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 months ago
Preyed on fears? How stupid are people?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 months ago
I'm going to offer my professional opinion on this (my job is related to this area).

People would ask me if I recommended Lumosity as a way to remain mentally active. My answer was always - "if you don't mind paying and enjoy it, then go ahead, it's not going to hurt. It probably doesn't do much but it's better than doing nothing (unless the money you spend could be going towards something better)."

What can you do to get similar or better mental results? Read, take a class, exercise (being physically active is just as [or more] important than mental fitness), play games, travel, be socially involved (friends, work, church, volunteering), take up a hobby, etc. Most of these are a lot less expensive and most will give better results.

Will Lumosity stave off dementia? Worst case - no. Best case - no, but it might delay its onset for a handful of months (but you can get better results from exercising regularly and otherwise being mentally active). This, however, is not supported by any research; I'm just giving it the benefit of the doubt.

This lawsuit is completely warranted but if you enjoy Lumosity and think it's doing something beneficial then keep at it; just know that it's probably not going to make your cognitive abilities better.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
63 months ago
The sole price of the app's subscription is enough to deter me - I just don't think it's worth it.
The fact, that it made laughable claims about it's efficaciousness just proves me right for not even trying it.

Games definitely stimulate your brain in areas you don't necessarily use in day-to-day life, but giving people the false hope, that playing them will unlock abilities they don't necessarily poses in the first place is just wrong.
I remember playing a Wii game at my friends place, that said you only use 10% of your brain. It all sounded like hogwash even without studies.

You might as well spend those 300 bucks on a relaxing weekend trip, it will definitely help you're productivity.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Six-Foot Drop Test Results: Ceramic Shield More Durable But Not Damage Proof

Monday October 26, 2020 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro feature a new Ceramic Shield screen that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. To test that claim, Allstate Protection Plans put the two models through a range of breakability tests and recorded the results. In a face down sidewalk drop test at six feet, the iPhone 12 suffered small cracks and scuffed corners and edges, leaving sharp grooves in ...

Bloomberg: New AirPods and AirPods Pro Coming in 2021, AirPods Studio Delayed, Third HomePod Model Also Possible

Monday October 26, 2020 3:34 am PDT by
Apple plans to update its AirPods line next year with two new models including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans. ...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...