Lumosity and its brain training games have no beneficial effects on cognition, according to a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The paper’s authors, led by UPenn psychologist Joseph W. Kable found that Lumosity “appears to have no benefits in healthy young adults above those of standard video games.”

The study took 128 young adults and randomly assigned them to one of two groups; 10 weeks of Lumosity training, or a control group that spent 10 weeks playing normal online video games. The Lumosity group got notably better at performing Lumosity tasks over time, as shown by the aptly named Lumosity Performance Index:

But, similar to the way getting good at Call of Duty doesn’t make you a combat ready soldier, neither Lumosity or the control had any effect on the key outcome: executive function. Executive function is the cognitive processes that regulate behavior and help you make reasoned decisions as opposed to impulsive ones.

Kable et al. measured executive function by measuring two decision-making tasks; delay discounting and risk sensitivity. Neither group improved in either measure:

Simply put, getting better at Lumosity didn’t equate to better executive function, even though the tasks were designed to do just that. In fact, Lumosity didn’t deliver on any measure, the Lumosity group showed no better performance than the video game group on tests of working memory, sustained attention, and other cognitive abilities. So, if you’re going to play video games you might as well play something you enjoy and not spend $15/month on brain training.




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