In DepthNeuroscience

Regulators seek to tame brain training's ‘Wild West’

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 212-213
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6270.212

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If you watch cable TV news or listen to NPR, you've likely been barraged with ads for Lumosity, a set of digital "brain-training" games that purportedly sharpens the mind based on the "science of neuroplasticity." Last week, Lumosity hit the news for a different reason, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made it the latest target in a crackdown on companies selling products that purportedly enhance memory, provide some other cognitive benefit, or reduce the serious side effects of dementia. It fined the games' maker, Lumos Labs, Inc., $2 million for false advertising and required it to create a pop-up screen that alerts players to FTC's order and allows them to avoid future billing. It's the third FTC complaint against the industry in 4 months, and many neuroscientists and psychologists say action is long overdue. Still, some worry that games based on solid science may be unfairly tarnished, and that the agency may be imposing a standard of evidence that game developers can't meet.