Lumosity is a “Brain training” program, claiming to improve working memory, problem solving, attention, flexibility and speed of response. One subscribes to it, by month, year or lifetime, and then no more than once a day may play five games as a “training session”: “training is a marathon, not a sprint” they say, but the games could get quite addictive. They are simple- some might be programmed for the ZX Spectrum- but compulsive.
Oh, that’s striking. I can play games any time by clicking on “games”. But if I return to the home page it tells me to “come back tomorrow”.
For example, in “Raindrops” I see simple arithmetic problems such as 2+9 or 4×7 and have a second or two to answer them. If the “raindrop” on which the problem is written reaches the “lake” before I answer, I lose one of three “lives”. I get competitive on this.
My score improves. In four weeks my “Lumosity Performance Index” has increased by 17% to 1270. They tell me this is better than 77.4% of people in my age group. That apparently includes people who do a free trial but do not pay for the program: it was around 50% when I started. I find it odd that the older they go, the fewer people beat me. So of users ten years younger, I beat 61.8%, and twenty years younger only 46.8%. I would not have thought that either cognitive abilities or computer game skills would fall off so sharply. I never got into computer games before, except for a week or two, but my generation were the first to become addicted.
My main concern is that I get good at Lumosity games, rather than improving my reaction time or “task switching”, “information processing”, or “response inhibition”. I see little harm in it, if I enjoy it, or value the challenge, for a few minutes each morning.
But does it do any good?