What’s The Difference Between Mind Sparke And Lumosity?

I have received a number of emails asking me to review the difference between Mind Sparke and Lumosity – two popular brain training programs.

They each base their training on scientifically designed systems. Both are featured at brain gyms throughout the country and they are two of the more affordable options on the market. So how do you choose which one is right for you?

Mind Sparke focuses heavily on dual n back training which is a protocol that was developed during the now famous Jaeggi study.

You’re presented with a screen where you see a block appear and at the same time you hear a letter called out. After the block disappears, you must remember where it appeared, as well as which letter you heard.

The program increases in difficulty as you are asked to recall the block placement and spoken letter of two spaces back, three spaces back and so on. Confusing? No worries. Everyone gets confused when they first begin dual n back training. After the first few sessions, it begins to make sense – and the quick results are worth it.

Mind Sparke

MindSparke is accessed online so you can train from any computer. You can also have a CD-ROM shipped out to you with the SE version.

The program consists of 30 minute sessions performed for 19 straight days, and then you can reduce your training to as little as 1 to 3 times a week. By the end of the first week, you should notice a dramatic increase in focus and a marked improvement in your short term or working memory.

Those 19 days take commitment, and this is why I recommend the program to those in need of concentrated training or those who have the self discipline to exercise their brain even if the exercise isn’t necessarily fun.

Added Bonus: Because Mind Sparke is part of a smaller company, you have more interaction with creator and CEO, Martin Walker. There is also an active and popular blog where users can post their personal training results and get feedback and support.

Who Is Mind Sparke For?

Students looking to perform better in school and/or on standardized/admissions tests like the SAT, GRE, MCAT etc.

Adults looking to function more highly at work, think more clearly and perform better on tests like the Bar, CPA exam, IQ tests, Civil Service exam, etc.

Seniors looking to improve memory, focus, thought speed and clarity.

What is the cost?

Brain Fitness Pro $19.95 per month or $159.50 per year.
(Web Based Training)

Brain Fitness Pro Jr All Siblings $63.95 one time fee

(Jr is PC only. Mac version not available yet.)

You can learn more about the Mind Sparke program here.

If you are looking for a more casual form of brain exercise, I would recommend Lumosity. Now, by “casual” I don’t mean less effective.

The brain training is centered around a wide variety of scientifically designed brain games. The company focuses on providing a fun environment so that users are encouraged to continue their training.

Because the program is online, you can log in to your account anywhere you have an internet connection.

After you sign up, you can start Basic Training – a 40 day workout of games that the company designed to, “improve memory, attention, processing speed, and cognitive flexibility.”


You can also choose to skip Basic Training and go straight to the core modules which are each designed to target specific areas such as processing speed, focus, math ability, high school standardized testing and ADHD.

Lumosity gives you more control over your training. If you want to log in every day, there is plenty for you to do. If you can only train a few times a week, that’s fine too.

The company also offers an Assessment section where you can periodically test your improvement within individual cognitive domains. So, say you’ve been training in the core module for attention speed. Click on the attention speed assessment, take it and you can actually measure your improvement.

Added Bonus: This past Spring, Lumosity implemented a nice community feature where you can add other users as friends and keep tabs on how their brain training is progressing. If you’re not into the social scene, you can easily set your profile to private and keep your training to yourself.

Who Is Lumosity For?

All ages, although the company states it is too difficult for young children.

Anyone looking to improve cognitive function in a relaxed and varied game format.

Those seeking tailored brain training modules in order to focus on particular problem areas.

What is the cost?

Monthly Subscription: $9.95

Yearly Subscription: $79.95

If you’re a Mind Sparke or Lumosity user, leave a comment below and let us know which program you use and what ultimately made you choose it.

Brain Training 101 chooses products to review based on quality. Some of these products are part of affiliate programs which earn the site a commission. Lumosity and Mind Sparke are two of these products. Our philosophy has always been to provide in depth, honest reviews of high quality products regardless of their participation in affiliate programs.

Erin Matlock About the author, Erin Matlock
Erin Matlock is the CEO of Brain Pages, Inc, a media company specializing in the promotion of brain focused resources and professionals. Along with heading up BRAIN PAGES, the company's brain friendly directory and online community, she serves as Founder and Editor in Chief of BrainTraining101.com and TheBrainChannel.com.

153 Comments On This Post

  1. I love the flexibility Lumosity offers, if you are not up to playing a particular game you have the option to change this with it still remaining in the same testing field. I challenge myself each time and enjoy it, it gives me a change of pace just for 15mins.

  2. My son had a stroke two years ago at age 30 and we are just now seeing the lasting effects. He has now been diagnosed with ADHD – inattentive type. He cannot take medication for this due to the stroke risk. Whet is the best brain training to help him focus.

  3. For years I have been concerned about my lack of exercise for my brain. I have found using lumosity i am much sharper lately at age 52. I just need to fill my brain with more knowledge.

  4. I bought Mindsparke Jr. for my 10 y-o daughter this week (diagnosed with low working memory and low processing speed but actually very bright!) and it is so gall danged boring. I feel like the company couldn’t have put much thought into coming up with these games. My daughter screams at me when she has to do it. It is just four simple games which makes me wonder if playing that old hand-held game Simon, plus a few following directions games would be just as effective? She is only 10 but I’m tempted to try Lumosity for her instead because I have the impression, at least, that that is a little more fun.

  5. There are some flaws with the game, and your BPI is drastically affected depending on which device you use. My BPI doubled once I switched to an ipad from a PC–that’s because the ipad has a touchscreen, so it’s easier to pick up speed with that feature. The ipad, however, offers only a subset of games that you can get on the PC. The ipad has maybe 10-12 games, while the PC version has about 40 games. I have found flaws with two games, and within a month, I am at the 96th percentile for my age group–the big leap was because I switched to the ipad. The games are interesting, but I would like more statistics/data to accompany each one. I can see how I rank in general–across the board. But I would like to see how I rank on a per-game basis.

  6. I’ve been using Luminosity for a bout a week and am making improvements on my score. Now, I hope that this is making an improvement to my memory and cognition. I do LOVE playing and the commitment i really to myself, about 15 minutes a day. Hopefully this will improve my memory and cognition and at the very least prevent additional memory loss.

  7. I have been doing Lumosity nearly every day for nearly 2 years. The stats aspect is excellent and it clearly shows changes in the 5 types of brain covered. The games are always challenging and progress requires an effort.
    I found for the first 15 months my BPI increased by roughly 1% per week. Since then it has fluctuated but overall increased at about 1% a month. I have noticed that when I have an ailment (such as a cold coming on) that my BPI decreases. In general I feel much brighter than I was ten years ago. I am 77 and find comparisons with the different age group stats fascinating. I have recommended Lumosity to a number of friends.

  8. Some people don’t seem to realise these games wont make you more intelligent or smarter. For that you need to absorb knowledge and experience things.
    These sites are designed to prepare your brain to be able to absorb that knowledge easier and then process what you learn hopefully with more understanding. The brain is a muscle and like other muscles you can build it up to be better at its job but you cant make it work by itself in getting a higher IQ.
    Its true the more you play the more familiar you become with a game there by making it easier but that is that the point of them, you’ve learnt to recognise a pattern or formed a solution and retained that knowledge over time. Of course to really benefit you need to use these improvements you’ve made to your brain in real world applications away from the site. Maybe now you would be able to remember more of that book that you were studying before or be faster at recalling what you learn last week or see the connections between things that you could not comprehend before because now your puzzle solving skills have improved.
    Sometimes I laugh at the negative comments on here its as if they expect the site/program to do everything for you, in goes a $20 out pops a new IQ lol. These sites are just brain gyms it up to you put your mind to work.

    • Thanks for your comment J2K; I am going to start playing and instrument and learn about on line business start ups. Hopefully the time on luminosity will help me to be a better learner.

    • Sorry, the brain isn’t a muscle at all; it is really a big blob of fat, with some very specialized cells in it! However I agree with the rest of your comments. I don’t expect Lumosity will increase my IQ; I just hope it forestalls the natural aging losses.

  9. Though I have enjoyed using the Lumosity games, (I am 73.). I bought them with the idea I could use All of them on a mobile device (my Mini-I-Pad, specifically). I bought one year’s subscription only to find I could only use ten of the forty some games on it. There was nothing that I read that said I would be so limited. There should be a significant discount because of that but of course there is not. My computer crashed and I use the mini for just about everything. I have complained to the company (I’ m a relatively new customer). They tell me they’re working on the problem but don’t have a timetable for a solution. And this is leading edge?

  10. I use Brain Fitness Pro, I love it. It is very challenging, and in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing even though I had read the instructions. I had to tolerate not getting it, getting it wrong and still persevere. Then my brain worked it out. This happens with each new level. The feeling of my brain working it out is truly amazing. I have also had a few experiences of photographic memory whilst playing it. And it has helped my insomnia! I have never read this anywhere as one of the benefits.

  11. I like lumosity – always going for a high percentile! I am in the 99th percentile of memory after 6 months, trained hard and its paid off.. Love the games.. Need to work on my speed now as I am around 85th percentile.. Great website and recommend it

  12. I have been training my brain with the use of Lumosity on-line software for just over a month… I am 63. I seem to have a better recall of names of people and past events compared to a month ago… I do enjoy their postings of brain related information in between games. Yes, they feel like “games” rather than tests! Lumosity gets my endorsement!

  13. I recently started using lumosity because I find a lot of the games fun, enjoy mental challenges, like sharpening my mind, and like being able to track my progress. I can easily recommend it to most people. Although they are continually adding new games and updating old ones, I will say that for some people, it can only benefit you so much. I’ve been using it for a little over a month and have already achieved the 99th percentile in overall BPI. It’s still fun and challenging to continually try to perform even better, but I plan to invest some dual n back training software for more of a challenge and continued improvement.

    • I am at the end of the first month of playing Lumosity, and although I have spent a lot of time, (it irritates my husband a bit…)I am already at the very top percentages.
      am I really that smart? How many people are we talking about here that I am actually compared to?
      (It does make me a better player for ‘Wheel of Fortune’) Letters come easy for me, I am pretty quick now.
      I’m a creative person :a ballet teacher, choreographer and actor. My education is sorely lacking, I only went through 8th grade really……I have a diploma from High School, but it was night school, I had to work during the day in a vocational education program, school was a joke…never got past fractions, no biology,history, english, foreign language etc…..I went to college freshmen year then dropped out to dance professionally. I’m just wondering if this is something legit.

      • Yes, it is. For examples, studies in France showed that people who played chess, for instance, had a far lesser chance of developing Alzheimer’s, and if you look at some of the games on Lumosity, they are much harder than chess, when it comes to remembering where things were, on a checkered board, ,lol. But so anyway, I don’t know, if it will make your mind stronger, although it might, but it will definitely help you process information faster, ect. Also, another way to tell, I would think it’s pretty obvious, but some people will want to argue with anything (usual guy’s, because of social conditioning they are better at math, on average, so anything that can’t be 100% proven,using number’s, they call “soft science”, and it’s very threatening to them lol), but anyway, if you look at the different scores for the different age groups, since people will say “well, it’s just familiarity with the games…but if you look, even among people in the different age group’s, there isn’t necessarily any reason to think that, for instance, the top performers in the group of say, 55-60 year old users are any less familiar with the games than users in the 20-25 year old age group, but as is obvious, there are still differences between the scores, between age group’s, even among people who are “familiar with the game’s”. But anyway, congratulations on your initial success, I found that lumosity was amazingly easy for me, on some games, and I’m 42, so I just found the game in the “speed” category that I was great at, and all of a sudden I was in the top percentile of user’s in the 20-25 year old group, and it was just by sheer coincidence, and so the point is, I just assumed all the games in that category would be just as easy, but then I played penguin pursuit, and my score, let’s just say, it wasn’t so great. So even the games in different categories, are wildly different, but its easy to think they will not be. Now, what I personally try to do, is try to resist the urge to just play the games I know I’m going to be great at, but to play at least 5 games of the 2 games that I have the lowest score on, because there are sub-categories, with each broader category-5 categories with 48 games lol, and so the main thing, I think, is not to get burned out, but just to get whatever system you can, to just rotate through all the games. I think lumosity is greatly underestimated, because to do all that, and still keep your score up on the games you are good at, its a real challenge. But its easy to just binge on just the 5 or 6 games you are stellar at, and I’m not saying that’s what you did, of course, but I have done that, just basically kill on just a few games, and then you have an amazing overall “BPI”, but I will tell anyone, forget those youtube videos where people are showing their amazing overall scores ect., because 1st off, if someone is putting they’re score on youtube, and showing themselves racking up these amazing scores, there is know way to know if they arent just using screen saver and freezing the screen, figuring out what to do, and then “un-pausing” it, and 2nd. as for the people showing off the scores, how do you know they have actually played each game 5 times? Maybe they just found what was for them the 1 game that’s easiest for them,in each category and ran up the score, just so they could look good, or maybe they are try to discourage people, by making them think it’s too easy? There really isn’t a way to know, but if you play each game at least 5times, and have a average “BPI”, for EACH GAME, of say, 1450 or better, than you know are doing doing stellar, no doubt. That’s what my personal goal is, because its just obvious to me now, that having a great score on just one game, doesn’t mean say, I’m the fastest thinker in the world lol, because, again, just as an example, there is more than one way to measure “speed”. But anyway, as a chessplayer, let’s just say I am a firm believer in this. Anyway,good luck!

        • What I meant is, it seems clear, it will make your brain stronger, but I differentiate between brain, and mind. But will having a “stronger” (i.e. more efficient, flexible, brain), help you develop your “mind”? To me, it’s just clear it will, and it just seem’s clear, to me, anyway, that Lumosity does just that. Again, there is just a clear trend among the scores of user’s, of different age groups, and there’s million’s and millions of user’s, so the one thing they are going to most have in common, is they’re age. And since people of higher age, are able to raise their score’s to what,say 20-25 year old’s (who don’t play lumosity) would normally score, and 20-25 year olds who play lumosity are able to raise their score’s far beyond that, I just really don’t see where ther’s any debate at all, lol. Again, what the evidence does indicate, is that there are 2 groups of people, who feel threatened by this concept; a group of people who doesn’t understand what the term “Prussian-Industrial System” refers too, and so they refuse to think anything can strengthen your brain, for less than $40,000, and then the second group of people,who find this amazingly scary, lol, are like I said, usually guy’s with a chip on their shoulder, about “hard”, and “soft”, science. That’s what all the evidence show’s: that Lumosity work’s, but some people are just scared of video games with some penguin’s, and frog’s, on them. Anyway,have a good one…

  14. I have been using Lumosity for almost a year now. I have advanced MS (onset age 14) and now a brain tumor. So although only in my early 50s, those things have taken a serious toll on me, particularly memory and attention span. As luck would have it, I was once so incredibly quick and really pretty clever, so I do not seem slow or challenged at all. But I know the truth, not what I used to be…I think the games are helping me. I bought a lifetime membership. I’m not getting any younger and my brain is going to need all the help it can get.

  15. I have been on Lumosity for about 6 weeks. I enjoy the program immensely, and look forward to each day’s lessons.
    I do not know if I am improving brain function or merely getting better at the games, but I want to believe it is helping overall (I am 79).
    I suspect the psychological effects are part of the process, and could contribute to the perception of mental improvement as much as the games themselves.
    I must admit that my inner competitiveness makes some of the games very frustrating when I slip back in achievement or fail to make what I consider good progress.
    I am nothing if not persistent (stubborn), however,and usually keep at it until I get at least a slight improvement, usually inching my way back into the top five best scores for a particular discipline.
    Have not tried the other program, and am content to continue with Lumosity for the next couple of years.

  16. The article mentions that Mind Sparke helps with SAT scores. Does Luminosity also help with SAT scores?

  17. Just started using Lumosity more fully after the trial. Age 24. I can definitely see the great challenge in its games. They cover good fundamentals of brain usage to beef you up. It is very much like a mental gym. A physical gym has barebones, undecorated equipment purely for building yourself up. Lumosity has a good amount of decoration in the games, but the focus is on functionality to a high degree. Like a physical gym, you’d really need to push yourself to get the best results. The mental challenge is definitely there on Lumosity. Now we just need attitude-training programs to make people more dedicated, courageous, and caring. A better attitude carries you through any tough training or test.

  18. Age 75, used Luminosity for about 5 weeks, improved but not sure if I improved in brain power of taking the tests.

  19. I’ve used Lumosity for around 3 months and I feel like it is helping me stay active. I’ll have to try Mind Sparke. Thanks for the review.

    • Be careful however good the brain training is. I was working with Luminosity for two months and suddenly the program stopped loading. No virus, no new installs, updated Adobe. Contacted the company they said to update Adobe; I did, again. They said install Google Chrome….I asked then why do you say Adobe supports your program, worked for two months, and now doesn’t. No answer. To make a long story short, I asked for refund of the 10 months of my year’s membership. They refused saying the 30 day trial period was over. I am filing a formal complaint with the company but I doubt if I will see a dime. This company does not support its product or its clients. Let’s hope you don’t have a computer qliche! Be careful.

  20. I have been using Lumosity for about three and half months. It’s the first thing I do each morning. I like because it really revs up my brain. I’ve just turned 65, and I highly recommend it.

  21. I’ve been using Luminosity for about 2 months. It’s the only program I’ve seen. I was diagnosed with MS in 2005 and even though I’m not sure whether the fact that I’m 53 or have MS, I definitely feel I’m losing skills in general, especially attention and forgetting words. I see an increase in my “BPI” but that may be from familiarity with the games. Thanks for the compare.

    • Hi, I’m sorry to hear about your health. I’m a lumosity user and chess player as well (for what it is worth) and it seems to me that yes, your BPI is going up because you are familiar with the games, but that is what makes them work. By “training”, it seems to me that it is precisely the repetition of “forcing” your brain to work in an organized fashion using several different “functions” that makes it (lumosity) effective. One way to tell it is effective is that even though your BPI is going up, on average, younger people have a much higher BPI than older user,s, and the only other way to explain this, other than the fact that younger people are, on average, “sharper”, than older people, would be to assume that younger lumosity users are playing, on average, a much much greater number of “games”, than older lumosity users. This seems unlikely given the fact that the average 20 year old lumosity user is most likely a college student. One key, I think, though, is to avoid going on a all day lumosity spree, and than feeling too burned out to want to “train” on a regular basis. At any rate, hope you stick with it, as you can, and again, all lumosity users would be pulling for you, I think, so stay positive and never give up!

      • Familiarity is a bad sign, for anyone. It suggests that the same neural pathways are being re-used. You must challenge your brain with unfamiliar paths.

        • The point is that with lumosity due to the fact that there are 48 games and counting, covering all areas, if you think you are just going to become stagnant due to familiarity, you are mistaken. Even if you do achieve a very high score on every single game, which is going to be quite a chore for anyone, let me assure you, if you think you are going to then just stop and still have the same high standard, especially as measured against younger age groups, especially the 21-25 year old age group, you are going to be sadly mistaken. It is my belief that familiarity is quite a good thing if it is touching on so many different areas in different ways. Studies from France have shown a probable strong correlation between playing chess on a regular basis,even if only on a casual basis, and the delayed and reduced onset of dementia and alzheimers disease, and let me assure you, lumosity “works” the brain on many other areas than chess. Chess though obviously contains other element’s than science, namely sport, and art, so I will continue to play that also lol. It seem’s there are always going to be those “disciplined” individuals who feel threatened somehow by something being explained by something other than “hard science”, and I’m not saying your one of them, but remember, chemistry may control psychology, but the reverse is just as true, if not perhaps more so. Lumosity works. BTW, it’s this male dominated chauvanistic view (concerning the so-called “hard science’s”) that will be fun to see crumble to dust now that soon the majority of individuals receiving Ph.d.’s will soon be women.

  22. Im happy people are at least TRYING to improve intellegence. In the state of things today they should be making everyone play these kinds of games.

  23. I am using Lumosity and like it a lot. I miss it if I don’t play each day. I agree that they are not careful about thier daily reminders, but they do keep track of me, when I trained, and they graph my progress. I feel good about keeping my mind flexible and quick as I age. I can judge for myself when I have trouble with a game, that I need more practice.

  24. I’ve been using Lumosity for about a week and am happy with it, except that they haven’t been sending their “training reminders” that they said they would send. It was the first brain-training program I’d heard about, so I didn’t chose it over another. AARP recommended it; otherwise I probably would not have tried it.

  25. Hi,
    Thanks for the review. I have had Lumosity before and discontinued it because I was hooked on Sudoku! I will go back to it now because I have gone through all the Sudoku games and love games. Thank you for keeping us up to date.

  26. Hello, I wanted to know what the difference is between Brain Training Pro, Brain Training Pro IC and Brain Training Pro SE. Do the SE and IC versions include everything that the Brain Training Pro includes plus some extra things?

  27. I am a Lumosity user for over a year. They have come out with a new interface that gets rid of the personal statistics that shows a chart over time, so that you can see how you are doing. All there is now is a single number. You have no idea whether it is an improvement or not.
    I am currently looking for a program that keeps these statistics for you. If there is a program you can buy for your computer, that would be even better as the interface is not going to change nor any statistics vanish.

    • That’s not true – your brain profile page still has the graph showing how much you’ve improved.

      • I was a Lumosity user for a year, then quit for 2 years. I recently rejoined and my old data was still there! Disconcerting that my performance has really slipped, and I’ll be curious if I can regain the numbers I seemed to achieve then, or if these two years (early 60’s) really have me going downhill mentally this much!

      • I have used Lumosity for 3 years, off and on. In Jan 2013 they got rid of a lot of the personal statistics. Since it is computers taking care of the database, I wondered why they would do this as it is no cost in manpower. I griped a whole lot and took my quest to FaceBook and Twitter. I got inane autoresponses on Twitter and to my email. Gradually they put back a few of the statistics, which you have to dig down 3 levels to get. Since they are working for people who want to train their brains, and are most likely also intelligent, I do not understand the corporate decisions. I guess they are spending more of their development dollars on advertising than on development of the site.

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