Regulators accused San Francisco-based Lumos Labs of making unfounded claims about what its games could do to delay the symptoms of and protect against conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and to reduce cognitive impairment from stroke and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I’ve played games 2364 times on Lumosity since July, 2013. I rarely miss a day and it has turned out to be a great method for improving some of my cognitive skills. I think false claims must be punished. But this case perfectly demonstrates what misconceptions people have about new health technologies. Most people expect technologies and digital services to transform their lives miraculously.
When starting to use a new tool or service, many expect it to lead to guaranteed lifestyle changes. After quantifying my health for over a decade, I’m convinced it doesn’t work like that. Each of us has to put in the effort to change ingrained habits and make use of data and possibilities that these tools grant us. There’s no “easy way” to upgrade your health, even with technology.
After playing Lumosity for years, I’ve gained two major benefits from it:
- I love playing these games – data show my stress levels go way down after I’ve played my daily dose.
- The methods of thought the games force me to master are useful when solving complicated problems in other parts of my life.
I’m convinced my reflexes, attention span, memory and mental flexibility have become better purely because I have been consistently playing those games. A few concrete examples:
- Speed Pack and River Ranger taught me how to be perfectly efficient at doing a task. While I’m in meetings, I try to make them as useful as possible. I do that by really focusing on what’s ahead of me. I almost always manage to get the most out of my meetings.
- Train of Thought still teaches me how to pay attention to several things at once. When I sit down to focus on replying to many e-mails, I need to gather information, read the messages, write the replies in a way that I don’t spend hours there. This game was designed to help me with that.
- Disillusion provided me with methods to look at the same thing from two angles without making a mistake. My job as the Medical Futurist involves coming up with visions based on recent findings and new technologies. These games helped me how to have a fresh look at the same thing to illuminate the reasoning behind them.
Lumosity will not go down with this decision. Hopefully they learned an important lesson about making health claims without solid data to back them up. It endangers the very real value they CAN provide to some of us.
I will definitely keep playing, and recommend you start improving your health, lifestyle and skills as well. To improve cognitive skills, I still believe Lumosity is a good choice. I have no scientific studies to back this up, only my 2 years+ of positive experience.