According to a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, playing Tetris for three minutes can reduce one’s cravings for food, drugs, sleeping and even sex by nearly one-fifth.

During the study, participants were tested in natural settings i.e. outside a laboratory. Researchers monitored them for finding out their craving levels and then encouraged them to play Tetris at random intervals all through the day. For those who don’t know: Tetris is a block shifting puzzle game enjoying significant popularity since its birth in 1984.

The research team conducting the study, which included psychologists from the Queensland University of Technology and the Plymouth University, discovered that playing the puzzle game interfered not only with one’s cravings for food, but also with his or her cravings for drugs, cigarettes, coffee, alcohol and a range of other activities. In addition, the researchers reported that the benefits of playing Tetris were observed all through the seven days of the study.

The psychologists have said that further research must be carried out based on the findings of their study. They also want drug addicts to be tested for knowing what kind of impact playing Tetris is having on them.

Prof. Jackie Andrade of Plymouth University informed that playing Tetris reduced the craving strength for activities, food and drugs to 56% from 70%. This is the first time ever that researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to use cognitive interference outside the laboratory for decreasing cravings for activities and substances other than food.

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Andrade said that he and his colleagues believe that the Tetris effect takes place because cravings involve envisioning the experience of taking part in a particular activity or consuming a particular substance. Tetris, being a visually appealing game, successfully occupies the mental procedures that support the above-mentioned imaginations. This makes it difficult to imagine an action vividly while playing Tetris.

During the study, researchers prompted 31 undergraduates, all aged between 18 and 27 years, through text messages to report any kind of craving they were having. These participants were also asked to report cravings proactively, independent of the prompts. Out of the 31 participants, 15 were made to play Tetris for three minutes before they reported the levels of craving they were experiencing for the second time.

Prof. Jon May, another representative of the Plymouth University, informed that the effects of playing Tetris on cravings of all types remained the same all through the study week.

SOURCEScience Direct