According to Tech Times, new research suggests that playing Tetris, a highly popular tile-matching puzzle game which was first released in June 1984, can weaken one’s cravings for drugs, food, sex, and sleep. Findings from a new research study conducted by psychologists from Australia suggests that Tetris can help in curbing addictive behaviors. Research found that playing a game of Tetris for only three minutes was helpful in weakening cravings for food, in addition to drugs, sex, sleep, cigarettes, and more.
For the study, the team of researchers gathered 31 undergraduate participants, 15 of whom were instructed to play Tetris for three minutes at a time. The participants were then asked to report any cravings they experience before the game and after playing the game on a scale of 0 to 100. As a result, researchers found that the participants craving levels were lowered to about 14 percent upon playing a game of Tetris.
According to study researcher Jackie Andrade of Plymouth University, the Tetris effect occurs due to cravings involving imagining the indulgence in an activity or the consumption of particular substance. Playing a visually interesting game such as Tetris can help occupy the mental process supporting imagery, therefore its difficult to clearly imagine something else while playing Tetris at the same time.
Andrade also added that playing Tetris reduces one’s craving strength for food, drugs, and activities from 70 percent to 56 percent, and that the experiment marks the first time it has been shown that cognitive interference can be used outside of a laboratory setting to curb cravings for substances and activities other than consuming food.
“This study extends laboratory findings to real world settings and cravings for drugs or activities as well as food. This is the first demonstration that visual cognitive interference can be used in the field to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating,” the researchers wrote in the Addictive Behaviors journal, according to Tech Times.
The researchers also said that the effect of Tetris on cravings remained consistent for a week and for all types of cravings. According to researcher Jon May of Plymouth University, the effect did not wear off even after participants played the game 40 times on average. This finding is possibly important because if an intervention only works due to it being novel and unusual, the benefits would lessen with time as participants become familiar with it.