Train of Thought: Lumosity’s Gauntlet

I jumped on the bandwagon on brain games last 2013, when brain games were all the rage. After I graduated from medical school, I slowly forgot about them as well. In 2016, Lumosity was found guilty of false advertisement: playing their games made one better in the games themselves, but did not translate toward an increase in measurable intelligence or IQ.

I only rediscovered Lumosity when I found myself running out of things to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Not much had changed over seven years: most of the games I had played then were still present, although there were a few new games. I nevertheless took the plunge and renewed my premium membership. This year, Lumosity has been, for the most part, unimpressive, except for a singular game: Train of Thought. Seven years ago, I didn’t play the game, because I saw how time-intensive it was.

I think Train of Thought is Lumosity’s best attempt toward building the player’s focus and attention. As one progresses through the game’s levels, there are more trains and more stations. At its highest level, there are 14 trains and 14 stations, and timing the appropriate train to the appropriate station is excruciatingly difficult.

It took me more than a week of playing for hours in a day just to make two mistakes at the final level. That is how devilishly difficult the game is, and yet those two mistakes were the best I’ve done. Within two minutes, after all, one has to lead 50 different trains to their respective stations. There’s little room for error, which is why playing the final level successfully is so challenging.

Someone more successful than me at the game

This is an example of the final level played almost perfectly. The speed with which one changes the switches in order to accommodate the incoming trains is tough, even with practice.

To the initiated, it’s thus unsurprising that I cheered loudly upon completion of my best attempt. I was close to weaning myself from the game after having focused on it over the course of five days, and I had a few more minutes before I was going to stop obsessing over the game (it was almost midnight).

Lumosity may not be worth a premium subscription, but Train of Thought almost makes it worth the price.