Although it might sound surprising researchers have discovered that the well-known Tetris game can be quite helpful when it comes to fighting addictions and cravings. It seems that playing Tetris for at least three minutes can reduce cravings by about percent.
Researchers say that this has something to do with the Tetris effect, as they call it. It means that when an individual has the craving to do a certain activity or consume a certain substance and replaces this with playing a visually stimulating game their mind is occupied. Thus the images of certain substances or activities are blocked since the brain is focused on something else.
The study was conducted by researchers from Queensland University of Technology in collaboration with researchers from Plymouth University. As surprising as it may seem they found out that Tetris can actually help people deal with a lot of problems including smoking, alcohol, coffee, sleeping and sex.
For the research the scientists monitored 31 persons: they were undergraduate students with ages between 18 and 27 years. Each participant had an iPod on which to play Tetris. They were asked to play the game for three minutes each time they felt a craving irrespective of its kind. The researchers kept track of the participants’ cravings by texting them seven times every day in order to find out what kind of craving they experienced and how intense it was. In addition the participants were free to self-report each time they had any craving. The participants were divided in two groups: a group that played Tetris and a control group.
The scientists involved in the study noted that 30 percent of the cravings included food and beverages while 21 percent accounted for cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and drugs. 16 percent of the time the cravings included sleep, socializing or sex.
According to Jackie Andrade from the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University and Plymouth University School of Psychology the result was the following:
Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%. This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating.”
Andrade is of the opinion that Tetris could be used as a support tool in managing cravings and addictions.
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