Instant Recall: Lumosity Ends Deceptive Claim Lawsuit With $2 Million Settlement

photo.jpg720px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svgYou have seen the commercial for “brain training” by Lumosity suggesting that its programs would reduce or delay cognitive impairment and even delay such serious diseases as Alzheimer’s. The Federal Trade Commission called the ads deceptive and sought a higher sanction. However, the FTC agreed that the company could only pay $2 million. That seems highly questionable that a company advertising across the country in high-value markets and times could only afford $2 million.


The Lumosity program consists of 40 games designed to target and train specific areas of the brain. The company suggested that training on these games for 10 to 15 minutes three or four times a week could help users achieve their “full potential in every aspect of life.” Online and mobile app subscriptions included monthly ($14.95) to lifetime ($299.95) memberships.

The FTC detailed how Lumosity claimed it could:

  1. Improve performance on everyday tasks, in school, at work, and in athletics;
  2. Delay age-related cognitive decline and protect against mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease;
  3. Reduce cognitive impairment associated with health conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, ADHD, the side effects of chemotherapy, and Turner syndrome, and that scientific studies proved these benefits.

The government stated “Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

Founder and former CEO Kunal Sarkar and co-founder and former Chief Scientific Officer Michael Scanlon have agreed to acquire actually competent and reliable scientific evidence before making future claims about any benefits for real-world performance, age-related decline, or other health conditions.

The order also imposes a $50 million judgment against Lumos Labs, which will be suspended due to its financial condition after it pays $2 million to the Commission.

Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, will not only pay $2 million in redress but will notify subscribers of the FTC action and provide them with an easy way to cancel their auto-renewal to avoid future billing. If the company is lucky, they will just forget about it.

Here is the FTC Complaint.

22 thoughts on “Instant Recall: Lumosity Ends Deceptive Claim Lawsuit With $2 Million Settlement”

  1. I tried it and thought it was fun! You could do quite a lot for free and didn’t have to have a paid membership. Maybe most people did that, that’s why they didn’t have much money for a settlement. I felt like it helped keep me alert, and I have read that mental exercises, especially unfamiliar things, do help delay Alzheimer’s and such. I hope they’ll be able to make somewhat less emphatic claims, prove the claims they do make, and get back into business. Try it, folks, but don’t buy it!

  2. I always thought “Luminosity” was a psyop. And just because they’re being sued doesn’t mean they’re not. Begs the question who in their right mind thinks that answering a bunch of questions like a dog drooling for a bell benefits anyone other than the programmers and whomever they’re selling the data to. Am I wrong?

  3. So does uncle sam keep all the money? Was he the victim? And if they are now broke after paying the fine what about the life time membership ppl? These govt shake downs are getting out of hand. Like the taxpayers ever got any of the over 7 BILLIon fined out of big pharma in 2012. … Or did sam or the victims? Btw clothes never look on me like they do on the maniqiun…shoe inserts dont make my feet hurt less. And board games often arent so fun as advertised. And ive got expensive recipe books with pretty bad recipes in it. And my matress doesnt hold up as advertised either. Ahhhh but. “Preying on ppls fears” of cognotive demise….BS. Then this should have been an fda case.

  4. DBQ – I hear ya. A lot of the games are full of historical content. I learned a ton of medieval weapons and armor styles from Diablo.

    I remember when Myst came out… I was about 8, and I couldn’t get it. Doom/Wolfenstein were more age appropriate puzzles. Of course, we had to sneak away to play them (at a friend’s house). I think they are on Myst 5 or something now.

    The way so many games have become like movies you play is amazing. Every now and then I can’t resist a game… I bought xbox360 for Red Dead Redemption- played it, loved it, sold them, and moved on.

    One of my buddies has a kid who loves comic books. His teacher was impressed with his reading level and asked about the kid’s habits. My friend tells him comic books and the teacher admonished him. When he told me this I flipped a bit and said,”maybe the other kids should pick up comics!”. (At his kid’s next bday they had a comic themed party and all the kids got comics in their favor bags)

    I used to drink chocolate milk like crazy. I knew milk was good for bones and growth, etc. One day I asked my dad if I chocolate milk counted as milk (I was like 5), and he said of course! It’s still milk!

    What’s my rambling got to do with anything? Something about being well rounded and not discounting a percieved luxury which also has healthful benefits. Typing on a phone between clients killing time so that’s my excuse. Got a big book of ’em. (Excuses)

  5. I watched WoW ruin a few friend’s college days.

    @ Steg

    Moderation in all things 🙂

    I played WoW quite heavily when I still had my financial planning/investment practice. I found it to be a great way to relax and a relief from the very stressful side effects of my occupation. I did have to set myself time limits and structure the playing so that it didn’t interfere with my real life and my duties at work or as a wife. Also didn’t let many of my customers know that I was a high level Tauren Hunter. They wouldn’t understand :- D

    The thing about those games is that they DO stretch your mind. Calculating just the right armor set for your rogue versus your hunter. Obtaining the gear. Solving the puzzles in some cases. Strategizing on how your team is going to approach and defeat the Boss. Unlike what many think these games are not just bam bam, point and shoot, kill everything types of games.

    Myst is another mind bending game with no violence whatsoever. I don’t know if it is still available, but it was very much a puzzle and solve the mystery type of game.

    Stretching the mind is as important as stretching the body.

  6. I watched WoW ruin a few friend’s college days.

    When I was big into those mmorpgs, every single one had a shadow economy that tied to the real one. My big addiction was Diablo 2. The ‘gold’ standard was a Stone of Jordan (magic ring). People would collect these, and you would trade them for high level/multiple effect rare and unique items. You could buy SOJ in bulk off websites, and eventually just buy the items, too.

    Human nature being what it is, a lot of people found ‘hacks’, exploitable loopholes which enabled them to duplicate an item while retaining the original. I’d do this with a few friends, and then we’d hit the trading rooms. Eventually updates fixed a lot of this stuff, but the fix and workaround is an endless cycle. I grew out of games and into guitars.

    —–

    A business would have better success with these claims if they mailed you instructions to simply “Eat bacon and eggs every day from a farmer you’ve met.”

    The brain is 20% cholesterol by weight, and there have been studies which reveal seniors who consume more cholesterol have less cognitive impairment than those who consumed less cholesterol.

    I maintain that cholesterol is GOOD for you. It’s when it ‘rusts’ that it becomes bad. (oxidized cholesterol = problems)

    Here is a link which contains sources:

    http://www.drdach.com/Cholesterol_Statin_Elderly.html

    I think to keep your brain healthy- you can not do one thing. You must do many. This is the basic premise of what is called Ayurvedic lifestyle. Indian culture stuff for the last five thousand-ish years.

    Your body and your mind are inextricably linked – exercise strengthens both. Breathing is key. Seven different breath styles in the chapter on ‘pranayama’. Well rounded education and activities cultivate a healthy human. Highly trained in one aspect(alone) is no good- specialization is for the insects.

  7. Help. My post doesn’t seem to want to post. It only contained two links and I even de-linked them 🙁

  8. @ issac

    You know what else is good for the brain and helps exercise it? Some video games. The MMORPGs in particular require strategies, much math, hand eye coordination, geometric calculations, social interactions, team coordination, puzzle solving, detective skills and much much more.

    Some MMORPGs have been studied by serious economists, social scientists and behavioral scientists. EVE on line has had studies of its virtual economy that have been compared to actions IRL economies. Wall Street Journal link

    —-http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/06/21/real-economist-takes-lessons-from-virtual-world/

    World of Warcraft’s “Blood Plague” has become a study in the spread and prevention of pandemic diseases and is an interesting study in the human reactions (of the players) in how they either work together to stop, prevent, help or hurt in the spread of the plague. ABC link

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-08-22/researchers-study-world-of-warcraft-plague/646624

    I was there for the WoW plague, it was amazing 😀 EVE requires so much math!!!

    Don’t give electronic virtual reality games a short shrift. They really do exercise your brain…..and they are fun!

    Links to articles have been delinked since my first attempt at posting this failed for some reason

  9. L-Arginine makes it harder. Most of those supplements have arginine in them and since harder usually means longer, they are actually not false advertising. ……Not that I take them or have ever bothered to look into it, some fellow was telling me this the other day at lunch.

  10. I guess my top 1% IQ already kept me from falling for their scam. The only reason I watched their ads was a couple of the gals who were promoting it in the commercials were cute. Otherwise, it annoyed me that they could make such outrageously bad claims. Guess someone decided they couldn’t.

  11. And yet I still see commercials for an herbal supplement that will extend the length of my penis. Ahem, not that it needs to be any longer!!

  12. Use it or lose it. Learn another language. Do crossword puzzles, Sudoku, etc. Make up stories and try to write. Read Dickens, Voltaire, Dumas, etc and stay away from TV and the movies. Brain’l be fine.

  13. Only the government is allowed to prey on consumer fear. You pay them and sometimes even get money back. Awwww, they are so great.

  14. Went in dumb, come out dumb too, all the folks paying Lumosity need a brain scan, a head exam, an enema and a root canal in the Erie.

  15. I purchased a year subscription because of their claims. I have a severe head/brain injury which was sustained in an accident. I was very hopeful there would be some improvements for me, & I didn’t notice any cognitive differences in the time I utilized it. I decided not to re-purchase. Too bad I can’t get my money back. I hate when people take advantage of the vulnerabilities of others.

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