Lumosity, a series of brain-training games founded in 2005 and based right here in the App-alachia of San Francisco, has agreed to pay $2 million for making false claims that its many offerings like "Lost in Migration" and "Train of Thought," shared with 70 million registered users, could prevent disease.
"Lumosity preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease," Fast Company quotes Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads."
Lumosity has drawn a distinction between itself and its advertising department, however, and says while it plans to change its marketing claims, its products will continue. "Neither the action nor the settlement pertains to the rigor of our research or the quality of the products—it is a reflection of marketing language that has been discontinued," the company stated "Our focus as a company has not and will not change: We remain committed to moving the science of cognitive training forward and contributing meaningfully to the field’s community and body of research."
An FTC spokesperson noted that the settlement marked the first time a game, as opposed to a pill or supplement, had been pursued for making false claims to boost brain health and performance, as the Associated Press notes in the Chronicle.
The FTC settlement comes after 70 neurology and psychology researchers of prominence published a consensus statement critical of the brain training industry and Lumosity, whose marketing they characterized as “frequently exaggerated." Specifically, "the aggressive advertising entices consumers to spend money on products and to take up new behaviors, such as gaming, based on these exaggerated claims,” the experts said.