2013 study on Lumosity games and breast cancer survivors

(Lumosity Human Cognition Project) In 2013, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Rochester published a study suggesting that training with Lumosity games helped breast cancer survivors improve scores on a common assessment of problem-solving skills.

Cancer and its long-term cognitive consequences

Published in the journal Clinical Breast Cancer, this study was inspired by the fact that between 17 and 75% of breast cancer survivors experience cognitive deficits, according to the researchers. The most common deficits are to executive functions, higher-order processes that helps control other cognitive abilities. Because executive functions play a key role in goal-directed behaviors like thinking and problem-solving, many breast cancer survivors may struggle in environments like the workplace.

Researchers hypothesized that certain Lumosity games could help breast cancer survivors improve executive functions, as measured by common assessments — and do so from the comfort of their own homes.


12 weeks of training to target executive functions

41 participants with a history of breast cancer took part in this study. Researchers measured each participant’s executive function skills at the beginning and end of the study using an assessment called the WCST (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test). This test challenges people to adapt to changing rules and situations, and researchers used WCST scores as the primary outcome measure, or the measure of greatest importance to this study.

In the 12 weeks between these tests, participants were divided into a control group and a training group. The control group didn’t undergo any special regiment, but the training group finished 48 sessions of Lumosity games from their home computers, playing games that challenged elements of executive function.

For example, Word Bubbles challenged verbal fluency, the ability to quickly choose words from a mental vocabulary; Brain Shift challenged task switching, the process of adapting to circumstances and switching goals; and 11 other games challenged many other cognitive skills. Each of these games adapted to the player, increasing in difficulty as participants improved at them. When researchers compared WCST scores at the beginning and the end of the study, they found that the training group had statistically significant improvements compared to the control group.


How Lumosity continues to be used in research

Not only did the training group improve their WCST scores, but they were also highly engaged throughout the training process. This holds promise for Lumosity as a practical, accessible intervention for breast cancer survivors. At Lumosity, we’re excited to support this and more than 30 other ongoing research collaborations. We’re currently investigating new ways to use Lumosity games, whether for breast cancer survivors, brain-injured children, or people with ADHD. You can always try the games used in these studies by becoming a Premium Member today!

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