Print 8 comment(s) - last by Shadowmaster62.. on Jun 17 at 10:51 AM

A new Stanford study says yes

Many of you may be familiar with Lumosity (it even has its own commercial on TV now). It's a San Francisco-based company that provides an online brain training program, where subscribers play nearly 40 different games to improve attention, flexibility, memory and problem solving. It launched in 2007 and has about 40 million subscribers. 

The commercial says the Lumosity games are based on neuroscience, but the million-dollar question is, does it actually work? 

Shelli Kesler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, seems to think it does.

Kesler recently led a Stanford study that aimed to measure how well Lumosity's brain training transferred into the real world. She used a small sample of 41 breast cancer patients who had been treated with chemotherapy. Past studies have shown that cancer patients who've undergone chemotherapy can experience cognitive impairment for years afterward. 

The experimental group in the Stanford study played Lumosity games four times a week for 12 weeks, and results showed that they had improved word finding, executive function and processing speed over the control group.

While this shows promising results, it's important to note that the study is a bit flawed, considering the fact that it depended on self-reporting for a couple of measures.

The question of whether online brain games really work or not has been met with mixed answers. Psychologist Susan Jaeggi (an assistant professor at Maryland Neuroimaging Center) will tell you it does work after her 2008 study found that online brain training increased intelligence. However, a Georgia Tech study found that they had no effect on its participants.

Also, a 2009 study by researchers at the the University of Rennes, Brittany, found that the video game "Brain Age" (which claims to offer benefits similar to that of Lumosity) didn't help students very much in memory tests. 

Personally, I love Lumosity. I make it a point to jump on the site once a day (when I can) and play the 3-4 games Lumosity has chosen for me for that particular day. Once I've played those games, Lumosity calculates my BPI (brain performance index) and tells me to come back tomorrow. I can't play anymore for the day because I signed up as a free subscriber. If you pay, you unlock full access to more gameplay and user statistics. 

Even if I am using the free version (and that may mean I'm not getting the optimal amount of training needed for real cognitive improvements), I really look forward to my daily Lumosity training. It's become a lottery of sorts, where I wonder which games I'll be able to play that day and whether or not they'll be any of my favorites. 

But that's the thing. Lumosity tends to send the same games to me over and over (they're usually spread out over different days of the week while gradually introducing new games here and there). I get it, repetition will make you better and raise your BPI, but I can never tell if I'm actually experiencing any cognitive improvements in the real world or if I'm just familiar with the games, so I know what to expect when playing them. 

What's your take, DailyTech readers? Do any Lumosity (or any other online brain training game) players out there feel they've started remembering where their car keys are more often after playing for an x amount of time?

Oh, and for those who are curious as to how much the paid version of Lumosity costs, it's $14.95/month. Or you can pay $6.95/month if you commit to a full year, $4.99/month for a two-year commitment or a one-time payment of $299.95 for a lifetime subscription. 

Sources: Medical Daily, Pando Daily, Fox News

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Do you think ?
By M'n'M on 5/23/2013 1:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
I know studies on seniors have shown that the more engaged they are, in almost anything, the better they retain their mental faculties. I see no reason why that shouldn't be true of younger people. If you don't, or aren't forced to, think about things, solve problems, or otherwise engage your mind ... if all you do is sit and watch TV or some mindless pablum served up on your tablet ... then I suppose the "games" served up by Lumosity might be of some benefit. Otherwise I'd guess they're superfluous, no matter how fun anyone might find them.

RE: Do you think ?
By GulWestfale on 5/30/2013 10:18:38 AM , Rating: 2
paying 15 bucks a month for some free sudoku games is idiotic. no online program will make those people any smarter.

RE: Do you think ?
By superflex on 6/6/2013 10:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think PT Barnum had a quote about suckers.

RE: Do you think ?
By wasteoid on 6/14/2013 8:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
That was David Hannum, not P.T. Barnum.'s_a_sucker_born...

RE: Do you think ?
By woody1 on 6/9/2013 8:51:46 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure that watching television or consuming "mindless pablum" on your tablet have any less effect than playing games. I watch a lot of mystery/crime TV shows and I can assure you that I'm very engaged, because I'm constantly looking for clues and trying to figure out who-done-it. This is probably at least as stimulating as a sudoku puzzle.

People who watch sports on tv are also very engaged and frequently have phenomenal memory for plays, statistics, player histories, etc. These are not considered "intellectual" entertainment, but they certainly involve lots of use of the intellect.

Personally, I think that novelty and a degree of challenge are probably the best way to keep the mind agile. Foreign travel, with demands on language skills and the necessity of dealing with novel situations, is probably the kind of activity that will keep the brain working.

My opinion
By Ammohunt on 5/24/2013 12:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure why these types of games would be any more beneficial than say a game like Portal. From what i have experienced sofar is the mind is geared towards creating efficiencies via memorization towards the path of least resistance or least amount of energy (i think is base biology and advantageous for organisms to expend the least amount of energy). Take driving for instance most people that have been driving for a few years use very little cognitive power to operate a vehicle it becomes second nature and automated. So if you get the same tests over and over again it will eventually become second nature and any benefit over time would be diminished. The best benefit i feel to brain power and well being is substantive change in routine,activities, experiences or environment which forces new neuro pathways to be created. Its one method already used to help kids perform in school by having them do physically challenging activities like walk balance beams.

It just sums up to....
By Ramstark on 5/24/2013 2:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
Activity, brain activity, physical activity or combined activity will keep your brain in good shape. I know a lot of elders (The gym which I attend to is full of them) that are well versed in up to date topics on technology, politics, economics or sports, as all those topics have related mathematics knowledge and exercises, they keep sharp. On the other hand I know elders in asylums that are supposed to be "engaged" in activities that are "challenging" to them, but I think those are "toned down" for them, their games are chess or checkers, instead of a good game of billiard or "elder soccer", so they are not as "sharp" as the others are.

Some physical impairments are always a roadblock for some people, but not everyone lets those stop them for doing something they love, I think that there is where the key on brain improvement is.

By Shadowmaster625 on 6/17/2013 10:51:32 AM , Rating: 2
It's a pretty cool site, but the content really isnt worth actual money lol. Ok maybe $2.99 a year. But I just rofl at their prices.

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