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

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

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 ...

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...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger

Friday October 23, 2020 4:11 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that's meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W. The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it's not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow. We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the...

MagSafe Charger Teardown Reveals Simple Design With Magnets and Charging Coil Encircling a Small Circuit Board

Friday October 23, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
iFixit has today shared a teardown of Apple's new MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. An X-ray of the MagSafe charger courtesy of Creative Electron reveals the internal charging coil surrounded by a circular arrangement of magnets within the puck. The only seam that iFixit was able to leverage to open the device was where the white rubber circle meets the metal rim,...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

iFixit Shares Full iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Teardown Revealing Interchangeable Displays and Batteries

Saturday October 24, 2020 1:48 pm PDT by
After live streaming a teardown of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro earlier this week, iFixit today provided a more in-depth teardown that goes through all of the components in the new devices, revealing several similarities between the two. Early testing conducted by iFixit shows that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro displays are interchangeable and can be swapped without issue, though the max...