Brain-boosting claims net game developer Lumosity US$2M fine

WASHINGTON -- The developer of Lumosity "brain training" games will pay $2 million to settle federal allegations that it misled customers about the cognitive benefits of its online apps and programs.

See Full Article

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday the company's advertisements deceptively suggested that playing the games a few times a week could boost performance at work, in the classroom and even delay serious conditions like dementia. Under the settlement, Lumos Labs must contact its customers and offer them an easy way to cancel their subscriptions.

The San Francisco company aggressively promoted its service through national TV and radio stations including CNN, Fox News and National Public Radio. The company also used Google advertising programs to drive traffic to its website, the FTC said in a statement.

"Lumosity preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease," said Jessica Rich, a director in FTC's consumer protection unit. "But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads."

Customers pay anywhere from $15, for a monthly subscription, or up to $300 for a lifetime membership to Lumosity's online and mobile apps.

An FTC spokesman said Tuesday's action is the first government settlement with a maker of apps intended to boost brain health.

Lumosity is one of the most visible companies in the burgeoning brain training industry, which has estimated sales of over $1 billion per year, according to trade publications.

Under federal law, only products that have been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration can claim to treat or prevent serious diseases or conditions. To date, the FDA has not approved any brain training programs.

In 2014, more than 70 prominent neurology and psychology researchers published a consensus statement critical of the brain training industry, citing its "frequently exaggerated" marketing.

"The aggressive advertising entices consumers to spend money on products and to take up new behaviours, such as gaming, based on these exaggerated claims," the experts said.

While studies have shown that gaming participants can improve their performance on simple tasks, the experts concluded there is no compelling evidence that games "reduce or reverse cognitive decline."


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Global water crisis has widespread impact: UN chief

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says on World Water Day that 40 per cent of the world's population faces water scarcity. The UN chief told diplomats and activists at Thursday's launch of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development that "water is a matter of life and death," stressing that humans, cities, industries and agriculture depend on it. Source
  • 'Artificial magma' technology used to suppress Alberta oil and gas well leaks

    Tech & Science CBC News
    New technologies employing brute force as well as artificial volcanic action are being developed to better seal thousands of inactive oil and gas wells in Canada that are leaking methane, a greenhouse gas with an outsized impact on global warming. Source
  • World's first 3D-printed car due on roads in 2019

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It's been easy for us to think of 3D printing as something of a gimmick while the process has still been in its embryonic stage, but when news emerges about a 3D-printed car that is genuinely set to take to the roads as soon as next year, it's probably time to sit up and take notice. Source
  • Fed up with Facebook? Here's how to break it off

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Fed up with Facebook? You're not alone. A growing number of people are deleting it, or at least wrestling with whether they should, in light of its latest privacy debacle -- allegations that a Trump-linked data-mining firm stole information on tens of millions of users to influence elections. Source
  • 'Disco ball' satellite dropping quickly out of orbit

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Disco is long dead, and a disco ball-like satellite will soon join it. The shiny, multi-faceted, orb-like satellite, dubbed “Humanity Star,” is expected to plummet back to Earth and burn up sometime Thursday, approximately six months earlier than originally intended. Source
  • Distressed seabird rallies after dinner and a warm bed in Newfoundland home

    Tech & Science CBC News
    When Antje Springman and Dennis Minty spotted something huddled under the honeysuckle shrub outside their home along a river bank in Conception Bay North, they thought it was one of their chickens in distress. Springman went out to investigate and discovered a very different type of bird — a Great Cormorant, a black seabird about the size of a goose, commonly called a shag in Newfoundland and Labrador. Source
  • Here are the places in Canada — yes, Canada — vulnerable to drought

    Tech & Science CBC News
    This story is part of our series Water at Risk, which looks at some of the risks to the water supply facing parts of Canada, South Africa and the Middle East. Read more stories in the series. Source
  • Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman, experts say

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Video of a deadly self-driving vehicle crash in suburban Phoenix shows a pedestrian walking from a darkened area onto a street just moments before an Uber SUV strikes her. The lights on the SUV didn't illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time. Source
  • Chris Wylie says he'll testify in U.S., U.K. about Cambridge Analytica

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Chris Wylie, the Canadian data scientist who revealed information about how Cambridge Analytica gathered data about Facebook users, tells CBC News that he wants to testify in the U.S. and the U.K. about social media's threat to elections and democratic institutions. Source
  • How to protect your personal info on Facebook

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Facebook users who are worried about protecting their personal information in the wake of the alleged privacy breach by Cambridge Analytica have a few options at their disposal. The U.K. data firm has denied any wrongdoing and Facebook has said that, while none of the information leaked was the result of a data breach, it did appear to involve the passing of personal information from Cambridge Analytica to a third party when that data was supposed to have been destroyed. Source