Online Brain Training Deceives Customers

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

The company said in a statement that the FTC’s charges and the resulting settlement stem from “marketing language that has been discontinued” and that the company’s focus “has not and will not change.”

The FTC’s documentation of Lumosity’s online, radio, and TV ads before the settlement paint a vivid portrait of marketing campaigns targeted to those worried about specific diseases and health conditions.

Users signing up for a subscription on Lumosity’s website were greeted with several testimonials under the heading “Benefits Everyone” — including one from a woman who said she joined Lumosity at first for her mother, who had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. A 2009 blog post on the site offered the testimonial of a man who suffered from a stroke “and now uses Lumosity to regain lost mental function.”

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