Lumosity is a collection of brain training games you can play on any device. The company has claimed these games enhance brain functions, pointing to findings in neuroscience and scientific studies to back up its claims. Now the US Federal Trade Commission made them pay $2 million in refunds to settle federal charges that Lumosity deceived customers about the cognitive and health benefits of its apps and online products. In details:
Regulators accused San Francisco-based Lumos Labs of making unfounded claims about what its games could do to delay the symptoms of and protect against conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and to reduce cognitive impairment from stroke and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I’ve played games 2364 times on Lumosity since July, 2013. I rarely miss a day and it has turned out to be a great method for improving some of my cognitive skills. I think false claims must be punished. But this case perfectly demonstrates what misconceptions people have about new health technologies. Most people expect technologies and digital services to transform their lives miraculously.
When starting to use a new tool or service, many expect it to lead to guaranteed lifestyle changes. After quantifying my health for over a decade, I’m convinced it doesn’t work like that. Each of us has to put in the effort to change ingrained habits and make use of data and possibilities that these tools grant us. There’s no “easy way” to upgrade your health, even with technology.
After playing Lumosity for years, I’ve gained two major benefits from it:
- I love playing these games – data show my stress levels go way down after I’ve played my daily dose.
- The methods of thought the games force me to master are useful when solving complicated problems in other parts of my life.
I’m convinced my reflexes, attention span, memory and mental flexibility have become better purely because I have been consistently playing those games. A few concrete examples:
- Speed Pack and River Ranger taught me how to be perfectly efficient at doing a task. While I’m in meetings, I try to make them as useful as possible. I do that by really focusing on what’s ahead of me. I almost always manage to get the most out of my meetings.
- Train of Thought still teaches me how to pay attention to several things at once. When I sit down to focus on replying to many e-mails, I need to gather information, read the messages, write the replies in a way that I don’t spend hours there. This game was designed to help me with that.
- Disillusion provided me with methods to look at the same thing from two angles without making a mistake. My job as the Medical Futurist involves coming up with visions based on recent findings and new technologies. These games helped me how to have a fresh look at the same thing to illuminate the reasoning behind them.
Lumosity will not go down with this decision. Hopefully they learned an important lesson about making health claims without solid data to back them up. It endangers the very real value they CAN provide to some of us.
I will definitely keep playing, and recommend you start improving your health, lifestyle and skills as well. To improve cognitive skills, I still believe Lumosity is a good choice. I have no scientific studies to back this up, only my 2 years+ of positive experience.
I started using Twitter in 2007 and have been publishing thoughts, content and news about digital health since then almost on an hourly basis. I don’t care about numbers but when you reach a milestone, it keeps you thinking about what you have learnt on the way. Here are the 5 things I learnt while building a network of over 50,000 followers.
1) The slower, the better.
I could have followed tens of thousands of people irrelevant to my topics and gain a few more followers myself. But using Twitter has always meant being in the bloodstream of information and for this I chose to take it slow. It took me over 8 years to build my network and I’m glad I chose the wise way. I know many of those people in person or we have been in contact for years. It builds trust and leads to professional relationships.
2) There are no limits
I travel around the world almost constantly, but I’m based in Budapest. What I learnt is there are no physical or geographical limitations when millions of people are connected to each other. My network is mostly US-based but I can talk to any medical professional, patient or innovator who has something to say about forming the future of medicine.
3) We solve problems together
A lot of issues related to healthcare pop up in the stream of Twitter every day and we try to get the best people to think about the possible solutions. Through Twitter, I managed to crowdsource a complicated diagnosis, I get answers for very specific questions and make new contacts around the world.
4) People respond more easily
I talk with people by e-mail, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and many more channels. In my experience, people tend to respond faster when approached on Twitter as they know the character limitation only lets them transmit the key part of the information without the garnish.
5) I get news on Twitter
Twitter is the best filter I have today to get the key news and announcements about digital health. Companies get in contact with me to test their products and wearable health trackers. Twitter sends me those tweets that received the biggest attention that day. If I still miss something, someone will send it to me personally.
Because of my Twitter network, I live in a limitless world full of opportunities and information.
Let’s tweet in touch!
It’s always a pleasure to be included in such lists as I get to know others working in the field of digital health. Here is the full list and an excerpt:
Twitter can be the ideal platform for a physician to offer meaningful, relevant information to patients and colleagues. Getting started is the hardest part, but looking to others who have succeeded on Twitter can be a good way to draw inspiration. These 20 doctors are burning up their Twitter feeds and attracting massive followings—each in their unique way.
When I wrote about why diabetes management is facing extraordinary times, I included digital services. I recently came across some new services I haven’t heard about and thought I would share them with you. Hopefully, patients managing diabetes will find them useful.
1) VoyageMD: It helps diabetes patients who need to travel. Created by Professor David Kerr, it provides the latest information on all aspects of travel and diabetes including reviews on places to stay; travel itineraries and checklists; travel product reviews and airport procedures.
2) ExCarbs: It was designed to help people with diabetes using insulin to feel comfortable with taking up exercise.
3) diasend: It is a standalone system for easy uploading of information from most glucose meters, insulin pumps, CGMs and mobile apps. It also users to choose to link to various activity tracker systems including Fitbit, Up by Jawbone, Nike+ FuelBand, Moves and Runkeeper.
Please let me know if you come across others.
As 90% of the hundreds of millions of Instagram users are younger than 35, I made a decision. I think the message that technologies can improve the human touch should reach millennials as well.
So, check out the Medical Futurist on Instagram. Photos and images about future technologies and the amazing innovations I come across worldwide.