Public Release: 

Lumosity presents 99,022-participant study on learning rates at Neuroscience 2014

Altering cognitive task difficulty level affects learning rates


Washington, D.C. - November 18, 2014 - Lumosity is presenting new research today at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience conference on how altering cognitive task parameters affects learning rates. The study, titled "Optimizing Cognitive Task Designs to Improve Learning Rates in a Large Online Population," analyzed game play performance from 99,022 participants, and found that participants operating closer to their performance threshold earlier in their experience with a cognitive task tend to have faster learning rates - especially at higher levels of difficulty.

"By looking at large numbers of game plays, we can detect small effects in learning rates that result from changing the difficulty progression of cognitive tasks," said Nicole Ng, Research Associate at Lumosity and lead author of the study. "Our research goals are twofold: we can run online studies quickly and with thousands of participants to better understand how people learn, and also apply these findings to improve our product experience."

Participants new to Lumosity were randomly assigned to different versions of of 3 games that were part of their daily battery of cognitive tasks: Memory Matrix (spatial recall task), Pinball Recall (working memory task), and Raindrops (arithmetic task). Parameters dictating task difficulty were modified for each game resulting in varying degrees of exposure to levels either below or above their performance threshold, as well as a control condition.

Performance metrics, such as number of correct responses were recorded across sessions for individuals and compared across groups. Results controlled for age, gender, education, and number of game plays, and accounted for individual differences in performance across all participants. This study suggests that optimizing the progression of cognitive task difficulty to accelerate participants'' exposure to more difficult levels leads to faster learning. Our results also provide preliminary evidence that these differences in learning persist when participants return to the control condition. Additional investigation is needed to determine whether this accelerated learning curve extends to other non-trained cognitive tasks.


About Lumosity's Human Cognition Project

The Human Cognition Project is Lumosity's research arm. The effort supports both in-house internal data science research at Lumosity, as well as collaborations with external academic researchers who use Lumosity products to study a broad range of topics. Lumosity currently works with 63 researchers at 47 institutions, in 6 countries, on 62 ongoing projects. For more information, please visit:

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