New Thing #305: Lumosity

LumosityOne of my favorite podcasts ('Stuff You Should Know') had a new sponsor this week. I don't usually pay attention to the ads on the podcasts for the most part - they mostly become background noise.

But, like when there's silence after a long stretch of noise, or another kind of change in a sound pattern, when there's a change in the ads it catches your attention.

That's how I heard about 'Lumosity'.

The tagline was something like 'Improve your brain performance and live a better life.'

Who can say no to that?

The website, if you sign up for a trial run, gives you a personalized training program.

You answer a number of questions about the type of memory or skills you want to improve - remembering people's names, improving long-term memory, practicing problem-solving skills, improving focus - and then they spit out a few activities that help your brain.

One of the memory activities was like the old Nintendo game 'Duck Hunt'. They flashed a number in the middle of the screen, and then a duck somewhere else. After the number and bird go away you have to click the place where the duck was and then type in the number. As you can probably guess, it gets progressively harder.

The activities are not unlike those brain games you play where you look at a list of colors and you have to tell the color of the words when they spell out a different color. ('Green', written in 'Blue', for example. If you've never done it, it's hard to say the right thing.)

The game pictured above was easy - it just involves quick thinking and arrow-clicking.

But I had trouble with some of the games. There was a pattern game that got very difficult - you were supposed to remember which squares on a grid lit up and re-create the pattern. I did OK on the small grids, but as they got larger it got too hard for me.

I'm always game for activities that make me feel like I'm improving the way I use my brain. That's why I became such a fan of crossword puzzles in recent years.

And there's an iPhone component with Lumosity that I was excited about as well.

But, as I feared, the initial sign-up was just for a trial period. And a subscription is more than I'm willing to pay right now.

So I guess improving my brain with Lumosity is just not in the cards.