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Apparently, playing a bunch of mini-games for a few minutes a day will not make you smarter as some mobile apps claim.
The Federal Trade Commission announced on Tuesday that Lumosity app developer Lumos labs will pay $2 million to settle deceptive advertising charges over its falsely advertised “brain training” app, which has around 70 million users.
The app consists of 40 games that claim to exercise users’ core cognitive abilities with an emphasis on abstract mental skills, such as paying attention to details and making decisions. Lumos Labs claimed that by playing its “cognitive science” games 10 to 15 minutes a day three or four times a week, users could improve their cognitive performance, prevent mental decline, and reach their “full potential in every aspect of life.” Monthly subscriptions offers for the app’s games started at $14.95 and lifetime memberships cost $299.95.
In their statement, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Jessica Rich said: “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.”
In an interview with NPR, Randall Engel, psychology professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that smarts come from neurotransmitters and the dopamine system, a mass of nerve cells in the middle of your brain.
“We’re really talking about a biological system,” he told NPR. “The idea that you can do some little computer game for half an hour a day for 10 days and change that system is ludicrous on the face of it.”