Lumos Lab fined over “brain training“ games claims

Following a $2-million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity and its "brain training" games, will make redress payments to customers and also make it easier for them to cancel auto-renewal of the service.

In a statement released yesterday, Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Lumosity "preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer's disease. But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads."

According to the FTC complaint, Lumosity bought hundreds of keywords connected to memory, dementia, and cognition to target consumers, and failed to disclosed that the testimonials on its website were from contest winners, who received prizes like trips to San Francisco.

Lumos Labs told NBC News "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."

According to regulators, if the company were to break the terms of its settlement, it could be on the hook for as much as $50 million.

Lumosity, which offered subscription-based access to games and activities on its website and mobile app, had claimed the programme had "proven" ability to enhance brain function, ward off degenerative brain diseases, and improve academic and athletic performance.

According to the FTC, however, the company had no evidence to back those claims, which were widely promoted through email campaigns, social media posts and advertisements, including some that appeared on CNN.

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

Lumos Labs did not admit or deny wrongdoing and said it no longer used the advertising language criticised by the FTC.

Lumos Labs said in a statement that the settlement does not "pertain to the rigor of our research or the quality of the products" and it remains "committed to moving the science of cognitive training forward."