How to Train a Brain

In the article I read for the NY Times, written by Dan Harley. Harley is a “neuroscience reporter writing a book on new research into intelligence”, and in this article he discusses something that has really sparked an interest in me, brain training. I’m sure we have all seen the Luminosity commercials, well that is brain training. In this article younger students are the focus. The CEO of luminosity discusses that he is shocked to see such a younger user base, because brain training was originally intended for an older user base. However, many young student ranging from 11-21 are using this online based brain training. Luminosity apparently waives their fee per the request of teachers, but other brain training companies such as LearningRx do not and in fact are pricey. Unlike tutoring, which makes a student better at one particular subject, brain training is said to make students “smarter”.

In particular Dan looks at Taylor a lacrosse player. She plays so well that she is being looked at by college recruiters, her parents wonder if brain training could do for school what her lacrosse coaches have done for her as an athlete. She is enrolled in brain training and admits that for the first few sessions it was hard and she had headaches. However, the article goes on to explain that “She’s now studying for the SAT. ‘It used to take me an hour to memorize 20 words. Now I can learn, like, 40 new words in 20 minutes.'”. It is also used for students with learning disabilities. This leads to the question of why schools aren’t incorporating this into their schools or why we as teachers aren’t using certain methods in our classrooms? Even though, “For all the glowing testimonials, there are postings to be found online from parents of children with learning disabilities, complaining about substantial fees and minimal benefit”. I wonder if these negative remarks have mostly to do with cost of these programs which can run about $80-$90 per hour with a “brain trainer” from LearningRx. I would love to hear what others have to say on this topic and if anyone has tried “brain training”? I am going to enroll in luminosity. I have always been curious about the site and this gives me a reason to look into it.

If you want to check it out with me: Luminosity Let me know how it goes and what you think!!

Link to article, it is a bit long but an interesting read, Article



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4 responses to “How to Train a Brain

  1. Nice work Brenda! Surprisingly enough, I have never heard of Luminosity but I have heard of brain training. I wonder if these sites actually make us smarter or rather, if they just help the brain organize and process new info or if they just help students memorize things faster. If the old expression, “practice makes perfect” is true, then time spent playing brain games should indeed help the brain by pure practice alone. This being said, I don’t know if teachers should be implementing these kinds of things in the classroom as it would take up too much valuable time inside of the classroom. I would prefer my students spend time actually engaging with other students and myself rather then a computer screen especially given that some of these students may not engage with anyone at all once they leave school.

  2. So I’ve been playing these games on Luminosity and they are fun! Tamzin I see what you are saying, but students do PE why not have a class with “brain training”? I know that there would need to be significant evidence that this works, but I’m wondering why not if it genuinely makes us smarter? Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. brittanygage4

    I loved this article because I can really relate! I’ve actually used luminosity in high school before and on my phone using an app. It’s very strange to me that more schools don’t utilize this kind of training because it can only be beneficial. Like a muscle, the brain needs to exercise and be conditioned. If students used this more often they could help their brains be able to take in more challenging information. Honestly, anything that can help advance students with little to no negative side affect should be used. Since luminosity will give free training I say we use it here at UMB!


    The idea of “brain training” seemed initially to me to be some kind of money-making hoax, but if the focus of these exercises are to help the brain retain information and memorize facts faster, I can see how this can possibly work. I remember how, after my father had a stroke, the doctor told my mother that having my dad complete crossword puzzles or sudoku might help him regain more of his memory and word recognition. However, this type of “brain training” wouldn’t necessarily make you intellectually “smarter”. And, as all of us who have seen the amazing movie Rain Man know, having a great skill at memorizing things doesn’t necessarily help you overcome other obstacles to learning.

    I have trouble remembering things all the time, and I already know for a fact that many tricks and ways of organizing information can greatly aid the brain in memorization (I am having flashbacks right now thinking of how I memorized the first lines of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” for a previous class with Prof. Mueller!). So, maybe this Luminosity thing is worth me taking a look at ….

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