Late last year I declared a penchant for so-called brain training games, which claim to be able to help you improve your cognitive ability, while also cleverly tapping into the casual mobile gaming phenomena. Then I got bored. If these apps are supposed to improve one’s ability to focus and retain information, they failed completely. However, regardless of my diminishing attention span, brain training startups continue to attract the interest of VCs.
The time it’s the turn of ‘mobile-first’ brain training startup Peak (formerly called Brainbow), which has raised a $7 million Series A round led by Creandum, with participation from existing investors DN Capital, London Venture Partners (LVP) and Qualcomm Ventures. The total raised by the London-based company now comes to $10 million as it looks to compete in what is becoming an increasingly crowded space for brain-training games and apps.
To that end, Peak says it will use the additional capital to grow its team of neuroscientists and engineers, and to work towards its mission to map “the world’s cognitive performance.” It’s this emphasis on tracking data related to users’ cognitive performance that the startup hopes will give it the edge. Competitors include legacy player Lumosity, along with the likes of Elevate, and Sunstone Capital-backed Memorado.
“Peak helps users increase self-awareness by providing tools to track, train and strengthen cognitive function,” Peak co-founder and CEO Itamar Lesuisse tells TechCrunch. “Peak can help almost anyone gain insight into their cognitive functions and performance. It uses a combination of neuroscience, technology and fun to get users using their brain to its full potential.
“Peak was born out of a desire to blend the best of tech, gaming, science and education to create a product that could truly help users, and that they could enjoy. We worked with academics and scientists to build the best brain-training app out there.”
That’s a claim that many other brain-training companies also make, although the “science” behind apps that claim to be able to improve cognitive performance isn’t as clear-cut as it could be. From a skeptic’s point of view, it’s natural to ask if you simply get better at the exercises or mini-games in question, as opposed to improving overall cognitive ability in any kind of long-term or transferable way.
Of course, Peak takes issue with such lazy cynicism. Lesuisse says the company is “proud to work with both internal and external neuroscientists and their research does show real improvements in brain training.”
“We take a big data approach and show users a huge amount of data and insights in a transparent way. This allows users to track and learn about cognitive functions, compare themselves to users in other professions or see how they rate against other age groups. Peak’s investment in data is not only valuable from a greater research standpoint, but also in providing insights (such as the impact of sleep, diet and exercise on cognitive performance) to users on a daily basis.”
In addition, Peak provided me with a list of presumably peer-reviewed studies that support the assertion that brain training games improve cognitive function. Not that I had the focus or mental agility required to read any of them.