If you have a TV or a radio, then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard a commercial for the smartphone app Lumosity.
The people behind the app billed it as “brain training” backed up by science — and customers seemed to get amazing results from playing the matching, recall and logical thinking games included in the app.
“I can tell a big difference. Decisions come quicker. I’m more productive. It’s serious brain training, it just feels like games…” says one customer in a testimonial. Added another: “… we learned that my mother had early onset Alzheimer’s. I joined Lumosity at first for my mother. I now use this site not only for her, but for my brain as well.”
Except the U.S. Federal Trade Commission says that’s not true. The governing body issued a statement this week saying that the games might be a fun way to waste time, but they aren’t scientifically proven to sharpen memory or improve brain power.
“And those testimonials from satisfied customers? Many were from people who were offered prizes to say good things about Lumosity, and that wasn’t made clear,” the FTC wrote it its official advisory, making it deceptive advertising.
The company has now agreed to stop making the claims in an agreement with the FTC, and certain customers will be allowed to one-click cancel their subscriptions to the service.
“You can be skeptical of any app, product, or service that says it can improve your memory or brain power quickly and easily,” the FTC wrote. “Especially if it claims dramatic results for a variety of health issues.”