Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Lumos Labs (Lumosity) Brain Training Games

Press release: Here

– “Lumos Labs, devel­oper of, 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 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. 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.Rubik's Cube brain exercise (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:

SharpBrains Checklist 10 Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for You
SharpBrains Checklist Bookmark 10 Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for You (book­mark size)

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6 Responses

  1. Alex D says:

    Hey! This site is AWESOME. I will be

    Alex ~D~

  2. $3 mil­lion — impres­sive financing.

  3. Laura Fay says:

    Sharpbrain’s 10 point check­list makes a lot of sense in eval­u­at­ing suit­able brain fit­ness solu­tions. Happy Neu­ron has out­lined how the pro­gram stacks up against this check­list. You can read it at

  4. Nick Maceus says:

    This is an excel­lent idea to take a behav­ioral neu­ro­science approach to brain games.

    I noticed cog­ni­tive enhance­ment games were pop­u­lar in Japan and Europe. So I picked up an excel­lent brain chal­lenge game in Osaka, Japan and now I never go on a trip with­out it.

  5. Candice says:

    Any­body know of any online brain train­ing games that are good and free? Lumos­ity rocks but they charge. Thnx

  6. Gary D says:

    This arti­cle helps bring some sense to the sales hype. I’ve been using the Lumos­ity prod­uct. I have noticed my think­ing clearer and atten­tion improved. I have not tried any of the other paid-for brain games.

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