Lumosity is an online brain training and neuroscience research company based in San Francisco, California. Lumosity offers a brain training program consisting of nearly 40 games in the areas of memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving.
Lumosity (also known as Lumos Labs) was founded in 2005 by Kunal Sarkar, Michael Scanlon and David Drescher. Lumosity.com launched in 2007 and as of April 2013, has 40 million members. Lumosity’s mobile app has been downloaded more than 10 million times and “is often at the top of the Apple iTunes Store’s educational-gaming category.
The company raised $400,000 in capital from angel investors in 2007, a Series A of $3 million from Harrison Metal Capital, FirstMark Capital and Norwest Venture Partners in 2008, a Series C of $32.5 million led by Menlo Ventures, and a Series D of $31.5 million led by Discovery Communications with participation from existing investors.
Lumosity’s research program, called the Human Cognition Project, collaborates with researchers to study the effects of computerized cognitive training as well as conduct experiments over the web, making it easier to recruit participants and obviate the need for laboratory visits.
Researchers from universities such as Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and the University of New South Wales have used Lumosity brain games in their studies.
Dr. Shelli Kesler and colleagues at Stanford University found improved cognitive performance and corresponding increases in brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex in survivors of childhood cancer following training with Lumosity. Participants who trained with Lumosity showed significantly improved processing speed, cognitive flexibility, verbal and visual declarative memory scores.
Kesler et. al also showed enhanced math skills and cognitive performance with corresponding changes in brain activity in individuals with Turner syndrome following training with Lumosity.
Kesler et. al also showed that women whose breast cancer had been treated with chemotherapy demonstrated improved executive function, such as cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency and processing speed after Lumosity training. This work is published in Clinical Breast Cancer.
Psychologist Maurice Finn and Skye McDonald from the University of New South Wales found that patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who trained with Lumosity improved their sustained attention relative to controls. MCI is considered a precursor condition to Alzheimer’s disease, and this is the first report of cognitive enhancement with training in this population.
Dr. Joe Hardy and colleagues at Lumosity demonstrated improvements in attention, working memory, and executive function with Lumosity training.
Dr. Anett Gyurak and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley investigated the effects of Lumosity training on emotion regulation. They found that participants who received Lumosity training had significantly enhanced self-esteem relative to a control group that did not receive training. In addition, the trained group had improved emotion regulation and reduced ruminative thinking. The researchers attributed the emotional benefits of Lumosity training to improvements in executive functioning – the ability to mentally control thoughts and emotions. This research was presented at the Determinants of Executive Function and Dysfunction conference in 2010.