Jun 3, 2008
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Press release: Here
— “Lumos Labs, developer of Lumosity.com, the leading web-based provider of scientifically-tested brain training games, today announced that it has raised $3 million of equity financing from Pequot Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), and existing investors including Michael Dearing. The investor group brings expertise that will catalyze the ongoing development of Lumosity.com and support Lumos Labs mission to improve lives by enhancing brain fitness.
— “Lumos Labs is at the center of a booming interest in cognitive exercise and the emerging science about the remarkable plasticity of the brain, said Amish Jani of Pequot Ventures. Lumosity.com has seen tremendous demand from users and partners alike by leveraging the power of the web to deliver a unique platform for brain fitness.
Great news for the sector. The more tools available for leading mentally stimulating lives, the better we will all be.
Lumosity.com (click Here to get a sense of their games) provides a great user experience at a reasonable cost. From an investor’s perspective, we believe Lumos Labs is a very serious contender in the brain fitness space, and it has indeed been executing a very smart online strategy.
Now, I am not sure what “scientifically-tested brain training games” really means. While preparing our Brain Fitness Software Market Report we reviewed all published research on the efficacy behind different programs, and didn’t find any for Lumosity (which has some very interesting internal, but not published, data).
We gave Lumosity a score of 2 ouf of 10 in Clinical Validation (with Nintendo Brain Age getting a score of 1, and NovaVision, cleared by the FDA for use with stroke/ TBI patients, getting a 5).
Consumers, educators and health professionals will be reading more and more about programs like Nintendo Brain Age, Posit Science, Dakim, Cogmed, Fast ForWord, MindFit, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, FitBrains, MyBrainTrainer, and more. The bad news is that it is difficult to separate marketing from scientific claims, and to understand which program, if any, may be a good complement to other healthy lifestyle choices.
The reality is that, in this emerging field, no single company or product has an overwhelming amount of efficacy research behind. There is no General Solution, but useful tools for specific groups of people with specific goals, and budgets.
And, interestingly enough, one of the brain games that has recently shown very significant in a recently published scientific study (Can Intelligence Be Trained? Martin Buschkuehl shows how) is available for free: Here.
To help them navigate this process, we published the SharpBrains Checklist, based on dozens of interviews with scientists, experts and consumers:
10 Questions to Choose the Right Brain Fitness Program for You (and a brief explanation of why each question is important)
* 1. Are there scientists, ideally neuropsychologists, and a scientific advisory board behind the program? (Neuropsychologists specialize in measuring and understanding human cognition and brain structure and function.)
* 2. Are there published, peer-reviewed scientific papers in PubMed written by those scientists? How many?
PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes millions of citations science journals. If a scientist has not published a paper that appears in that database, he or she cannot make scientific claims.
* 3. What are the specific benefits claimed for using this program? What specific cognitive skill is the program training?
(Some programs present the benefits in such a nebulous way that it is impossible to tell if they will have any results or not…”brain training” itself is a limited benefit, because activities like gardening or learning a new language provide “brain training too”…you need to see something more specific, like what cognitive or emotional skill that program is aimed at)
* 4. Does the program tell me what part of my brain or which cognitive skill I am exercising, and is there an independent assessment to measure my progress?
(The question is whether the improvement experienced in the program will transfer into real life. For that to happen we need assessments that are distinct from the exercises themselves.)
* 5. Is it a structured program with guidance on how many hours per week and days per week to use it?
(Cognitive training, or “Brain exercise”, is not a magic pill. You have to do the exercises in order to benefit, so you need clarity on the effort required.)
* 6. Do the exercises vary and teach me something new?
(The only way to exercise important parts of our brain is by tackling novel challenges.)
* 7. Does the program challenge and motivate me, or does it feel like it would become easy once I learned it?
(Good brain exercise requires increasing levels of difficulty)
* 8. Does the program fit my personal goals?
(Each individual has different goals/ needs when it comes to brain health. For example, some want to manage anxiety, others to improve short-term memory…)
* 9. Does the program fit my lifestyle?
(Some brain exercise programs have great short-term results but are very intense. Others may be better over time)
* 10. Am I ready and willing to do the program, or would it be too stressful?
(Excess stress reduces, or may even inhibit, neurogenesis-the creation of new neurons-. So, it is important to make sure not to do things that stress us in unhealthy ways.)
We hope this information is useful. Feel free to share it!
For more information on each question and printable layouts, see:
|10 Questions to Choose the Right Brain Fitness Program for You
|10 Questions to Choose the Right Brain Fitness Program for You (bookmark size)