Tetris has amazing effects on our brains, for a very interesting reason.
We recently reported that playing the video game Tetris can help people kick serious addictions like smoking, alcohol, or drug use. But why is this the case? The answer may surprise you.
The study found that playing the game caused cravings to be reduced by 20 percent on a variety of addictions for people who played it outside a laboratory setting, which could give the medical community new insights into treatment methods to eliminate addictions.
But just why does a popular block-stacking game from the 1990s have this effect on the brain? Apparently, it has to do with our mental focus.
The problem with addictions is that we are tempted to engage in them when we visualize the activity and the pleasure it brings, causing an incredible urge to return to that activity. Tetris works by blocking the brain from making those visualizations by giving it something else mentally engrossing to focus on.
Addiction takes over people’s lives in some destructive ways, compelling the person to act in adverse ways in order to get rewarding stimuli despite the damage it does over time. Addiction has two properties: the stimuli that reinforces it and prompts the person to engage in it, and the reward that comes with engaging in the activity, causing a self-perpetuating cycle that becomes difficult for people to break even when they desperately want to.
Addictions is considered to be a disorder of the reward system of the brain, and it can take a variety of forms. It can be substance abuse like drugs or alcohol, or it can be an abuse of certain behaviors like sexual intercourse or gambling.
But can something like Tetris destroy a person’s smoking addiction by interrupting that cycle? Perhaps not completely, but this new finding could give physicians a new tool in the battle for someone’s mind.