Review: Lumosity is Dimly Lit


In high school, I spent hours at field hockey practice attempting to condition my body to run faster and hit the ball harder. The time paid off as I grew as an individual player and contributed to a team that headed to the state championship competition each year. While I no longer play field hockey, I remember the simple lesson that if you want to reach certain goals, you have to work hard. The brain, much like anything else I’ve chosen to improve upon, needs exercise. So, after months of watching commercials for Luminosity, I decided to give my brain a workout.

The first step in signing up for Luminosity is answering questions about what things you would like to work on. A few of the things I chose to work on included remembering patterns and locations, dividing attention between multiple projects and quickly picking up patterns.

The second step is a series of practice quizzes to determine how well I was operating in the chosen areas. The cool thing about Luminosity is that the quizzes are fun, almost like playing a computer game or solving a puzzle. One of the mind games has a woodland background as birds and numbers flash on the screen simultaneously. Then, it asks you to recall where the bird was and what number flashed on the screen. This is a memory game, which also requires you to focus on multiple things at once.

After I completed the preliminary quizzes, I received scores for key areas. The problem with the scoring system is that Luminosity just gave me random numbers, but didn’t provide a scale or suggest a target number, so I didn’t really know what to make of my scores.

Finally Luminosity suggests a plan for improving your brain. It told me to train for 15 minutes three to five days a week. But, there is a regular fee you have to pay to practice on Luminosity.

After a month of playing computer games in the hopes of improving my cognitive ability, I noticed some differences. I noticed a small improvement in my ability to switch between tasks and ignore distractions. But, I didn’t notice a significant difference in my ability take in new information or increase reaction time.

Luminosity is fun and I certainly experienced minor results, but from my perspective, it’s not worth paying for. There’s a plethora of activities you could do to stimulate your brain, like learning vocabulary or solving sudoku or crosswords. You could also commit to reading for 30 minutes a day. Personally, I think I would rather spend my time pursuing these activities.

If you’re the type of person seeking cognitive improvement, but has difficulty committing, Luminosity is probably a great choice. The games are enjoyable, making Luminosity an enticing way to spend a few minutes. Luminosity also sends you plenty of email reminders to check in and study, so it’s hard to talk yourself out of it.