Will Lumosity make you smarter (or dumber)?

This is my brain on Lumosity. Can you tell the difference?

This is my brain on Lumosity. Can you tell the difference?

In my new book, Finding Mr. Brightside, Juliette purchases a Lumosity subscription for her dad out of guilt for taking an inappropriate road trip with a boy, not because she thinks it’ll work. So does it?

Or should you be getting your Edumacation (of Jay Baker) elsewhere? Well, I tried Lumosity so you don’t have to, and here’s what I discovered about my brain through its scientifically pointless neuroplasticity-building games:

1. My brain still wants to pronounce and spell this website “Luminosity” instead of “Lumosity,” so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

2. Lumosity claims that their games are designed by neuroscientists, but my brain — by far the most suspicious of all my organs — keeps picturing a group of sandal-wearing Harvard undergrads with obnoxious laughs who think they’re starring in The Social Network.

3. Doesn’t matter what the game, my brain wants to be the BEST OF ALL TIME at it. It realizes this isn’t the point, but the chair-sitting adrenaline is clouding its better judgment. (Tip: Press the refresh button on your browser so a bad round doesn’t affect your overall score.)

4. Shooting birds that flash on the screen while simultaneously remembering a flashing letter is not going to make me a better athlete and/or driver, as the site vaguely promises. It does, however, make me a better time-waster.

5. My brain thinks remembering where a series of blocks should be placed is fun. Which is one of the reasons why the brain remains such a mystery to all.

6. My brain is in the 90-somethingeth percentile of people in my age range. It also has a tendency to assign too much importance to vague statistics like this one.

7. My brain really wants to believe the training is working, as indicated by me asking people, “Do I seem smarter lately, OR WHAT?”

If, after digesting all these “learnings” of mine, you’re still tempted to try Lumosity, you have my blessing. Just make sure you come back and post a comment about the experience. If you forget, then the training obviously didn’t work, sorry.

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22 thoughts on “Will Lumosity make you smarter (or dumber)?

  1. I’ve just completed a years training course on Lumosity – problem is, I forgot what I was going to say…

  2. Actually Jay, you’ve already become smarter because you realize that digital based brain training programs like Lumosity are BS. We are analog beings, not computers so like you said shooting at birds on a screen will not make you a better athlete. However, an analog based program can – plus you’ll learn faster, shoot better, and be quicker at conversation with the opposite sex even after a few beers. Check out combatbraintrainingdotcom for real world testimonials that will blow your mind, most after as little as 6 hours of training. But not any analog program – CBT is the only one of its kind in the world according to US SpecOpsCommand. In person or via Skype its guaranteed to work.

    • Thank you for your comment! I’m currently looking into CBT, but it seems like it would be costly. I’ve been out of school for a decade and I have the hardest time concentrating and focusing on my studies. I SERIOUSLY almost paid for this lumosity thing until I stumbled upon this article. So thank you guys! John, have you received training through CBT? and is it costly??

  3. I’m on day 16 now and so far i like the site. Its not making me smarter I don’t think, but it is making me better at the lumosity games and it has increased my speed with simple arithmetic a bit. I will say that I have caught myself consciously paying attention to things more because I’ve gotten myself used to paying attention to the lumosity games. So It makes me more aware of whats going on, not due to the actual training, but due to the habits i’m forming because of the training. Does that make sense? I might renew after my month is over, not sure yet. I’m 50/50 on it.

    • That makes a lot of sense, if we remember that habits have a major impact on how we think and act. The common analogy is working out regularly – or staying in a productive frame of mind. If one practices the skills, they improve as long as the necessary habits are in place. Spend days at a time ignoring the world, and it’ll take a little time to get back to normal if you get back to said habits.
      That said, luminosity might or might not be one of those habits. There are conflicting reviews, and at least one article (http://www.indregard.no/2009/05/28/lumosity-a-warning-to-users/) raises questions as to the site’s privacy policy. I’m willing to keep on the free trial, for now. I need to form some of those good habits. <:/

  4. I have avoided even becoming interested because the ad is so annoying it just turned me off from even visiting the website. I found this site by googling “how annoying is the Lameosity Ad”

  5. I think the site is great. I have done it for a month, it is quite pricey, but it works good and every bit of effort you can put into improving your brain, is good!

  6. This is so ridiculous. The best brain builder is exercise—first, second and third. It gets the blood flowing and even stops the onset of dementia for many years. Learning things that don’t interest you is a big waste of time. Find something complex that interests you and delve in. this is the way to build brain function, not a silly sophomoric game. People are getting fatter and stupider because they are sedentary. Get up and find something that excites you….and delve in. Luminosity another scam.

    • Preach! Totally agree with all of the above. Wouldn’t learning an instrument or a foreign language be ultimately more fulfilling? Or still just way too easy for people to quit and go play Bejeweled Blitz? ;)

      • Exactly. I was computer gaming addict. Spent hours a day beating virtual scores and other players. Than it occured to me what skills could I have if I spent fraction of that time on something else. That was a year ago. Now I can play violin and speak japaneese :D

  7. There is a time-proven way to grow your brain. Learn to speak another language. Read. Teach yourself computer programming. Learn electronics. Take up sculpting, or drawing, or needlepoint. Learn some math. Take a night job. Take a day job. Sell drugs. Do anything but go to lameosity.

  8. I don’ t think lumosity makes you smarter but it does help you increase your concentration, makes you aware of your surroundings ( I would get lost everywhere and now I find myself noticing objects that I would never see before), increase your speed in simple numerical equations that helps you in your day to day. So for me it has been a great HELP!

  9. Thanks for your honest opinion. I have been playing now for three weeks, I bought a year’s subscription. I currently have a problem with memory, like remembering people’s names and mental arithmetic. I have a problem with hand and eye coordination, not well at all, I am bind in one eye. Since beginning to use the regime I have found an improvement in my memory, focus and mental arithmetic. I find my decision making has improved, and my hand eye coordination has improved. I have tried other arcade type games, but have never really mastered them either, I confess I am not that clever anyway so I suppose for people of a higher cranial aptitude then me the games might seem wasted time, but if I can in my lowly state get some brain awakening then great, it is helping me. So then for some it will help, for others not. Developed by neurosurgeons or not the programmers are cleverer then me. Regards Vernon

  10. The only saving grace for Lumosity are the 2 hot chicks in the restaurant game. Barbara and Ari. They’re the only two names I cared to remember.

  11. I can’t believe I paid a one-month trial for Lumosity games. The games get boring and trying to outdo my past high score doesn’t motivate me. The only consolation I’m getting is the hot chick Patricia in the restaurant game.

  12. Ok who agrees something about lumosity doesn’t seem legit – the ‘science’ is iffy / not proven, and the developers are paying big bucks to advertise it every second youtube video (don’t get me started on the youtube ads, oy!) If you follow the money, why would a bunch of neuroscientists have any interest in bettering people’s brainpower without a higher monetary return? Are they just a bunch of big-hearted nerds wishing their dating pool was bigger and trying to inject our culture with a wee bit more intelligence? Is it a big experiment? Is it an IQ data-mining scheme, are they secretly selling the test scores associated with our IP addresses to google so they can cross-reference our search histories / browsing habits with our projected intelligence to find out how much of a threat to the establishment a user might be? I don’t know about you guys but I ain’t havin no part of it, see? When these ads come on I whip out my tin-foil hat fo sho. Creepy neuroscientist internet spies.

  13. The games are fun and don’t take much time so you don’t get hooked into playing for hours. If you don’t sign up right away after playing for free, they offer you a lot of “specials” which can be a very inexpensive if you get a group membership and use the full 5 slots.

  14. Well, I dunno if lumosity is responsible, but at first I used to call it “luminosity” as well, but now I don’t mistake it, I remembered 80+ elements from the periodic table, 4 from 5 of the intros of my favourite TV series, almost all the conversations in “Babylon 5 I’ve Found Her: Danger and Opportunity”, the intro of the SP campaign of “W40k Dawn of War: Soulstorm”, my marks at school have increased rapidly…
    But again I DON’T claim lumosity is responsible for it!

  15. Oh, yeah, and one more thing:
    Before I could NEVER make or escape any difficult situation when playing chess. If my difficulty was 2 or 3 from 10 before, now it must be 5 from 10.

  16. My psychologist/tutor recommended lumosity to me because I was always really reluctant to answer anything that I didn’t know the answer to, so I very rarely managed to finish tests on time. He had me make an account and play the speed games that would encourage me to answer faster without worrying about giving the right answer. After a few months of that, I started to adapt a more “answer and move on” approach to tests whenever I came across something I didn’t know the answer to, and my scores improved a bit. I don’t think it made me smarter or anything like that, but it definitely helped me get better at test taking. So while Lumosity isn’t going to make you significantly smarter, if there’s a skill you know you want to improve then it can help you get a little better at it. Plus that penguin game is adorable.

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