In a new study, scientists found that playing Tetris at the onset of certain familiar cravings significantly reduced compulsions.
Researchers from Plymouth University and Queensland University have discovered an unorthodox cure to compulsive cravings: Tetris. According to studies, playing the block-stacking video game can abate food and drug cravings by about one-fifth. The study was conducted in organic settings outside of a controlled environment.
Studies were intended to discover the impact on food cravings, however, analysts found it was effective in helping to reduce smoking, alcohol, coffee, sex and sleeping disorders.
“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity,” said Dr. Jackie Andrade, a professor of psychology at Plymouth University, in a statement. “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery — it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”
The experiment consisted of 31 undergraduate students between 18 and 27 years old, providing them iPods loaded with Tetris if they had cravings. Researchers monitored the students by texting them 7 times throughout the day to report back on craving spells. Students were also advised to self-communicate other intermittent cravings as the day progressed.
Half the group were instructed to play Tetris for 3 minutes at a time when certain participants experienced urges while the other half functioned as a control group. Urges for food and non-alcoholic drinks were documented 30 percent of the time, comprising two-thirds of the subjects. Cravings for other items considered to be drugs, such as cigarettes, coffee, wine and beer, were determined to be 21 percent of the group. Other serial compulsions reported were for sex, sleeping, playing video games or socializing.
Comparing the Tetris group to the invariable group, scientists said short bursts of playing the game reduced craving intensity by 56 to 70 percent. With the results, researchers concluded the game to be an effective strategy against such cravings.
Among the group that played Tetris when reporting a craving, researchers said short stints of the game reduced the intensity of participants’ cravings from 70 percent to 56 percent.
Based on the results, researchers said the game may be an effective tool to help reduce cravings and manage addictions.