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Shining the Light of Research on Lumosity

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Lumosity is a subscription-based suite of online brain-training games, intended to improve cognitive skills. Due to an influx of products designed to train cognition through games such as Lumosity, it is important to determine their effectiveness for the sake of consumers and for the potential implications of any training effects for theories of transfer of cognitive skills. Two training experiments were conducted using the Lumosity platform. Participants were divided into three groups: those who trained with five attention games in Lumosity (attention group), those who trained with five flexibility games in Lumosity (flexibility group), and an inactive control group. Participants were assessed on accuracy and response time for two cognitive tests of attention (useful field of view and change detection) and two cognitive tests of flexibility (Wisconsin card sort and Stroop) both before and after a training period. In experiment 1, the training period was 3 h spread over four sessions. In experiment 2, the training period was 15 to 20 h spread over an average of 73 sessions. The trained groups did not show significantly greater pretest-to-posttest gains than the control group on any measures in either experiment, except in experiment 2 where the flexibility group significantly outperformed the other two groups on Stroop response time and UFOV reaction time. A practical implication concerns the lack of strong evidence for the effectiveness of brain-training games to improve cognitive skills. A theoretical implication concerns the domain specificity of cognitive skill learning from brain training games.

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Funding Information

This project was supported by grant N000141612046 from the Office of Naval Research.

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Correspondence to Richard E. Mayer.

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We adhered to guidelines for ethical treatment of human subjects and obtained IRB approval.

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Bainbridge, K., Mayer, R.E. Shining the Light of Research on Lumosity. J Cogn Enhanc 2, 43–62 (2018).

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