Playing Tetris Can Help Manage Cravings, Study Suggests

There’s good news for fans of the classic video game Tetris: according to a new study, the game can help reduce one’s cravings for food, drugs, sex and sleep.

The study, which was led by Professor Jackie Andrade of Plymouth University, involved 31 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 27. About half of the participants were asked to play the game regularly and report on their cravings for food, drugs, sex and sleep seven times a day via a text message. The students were also asked to take notes on their cravings.

Jon Moy, another Plymouth University professor involved in the study, says the findings were impressive. “The impact of Tetris on craving was consistent across the week and on all craving types,” May said.

Specifically, the study showed that playing Tetris reduced cravings by about one-fifth. How so? Andrade suggests it has a lot to do with keeping the mind busy.

“The Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity,” said Andrade.

“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.”

Andrade and May acknowledge that more research needs to be done, but believe their study could help in the development of tools capable of assisting people in managing their cravings. That means it could eventually help people quit dangerous drugs or manage eating disorders and obesity.

The study can now be read in the journal Addictive Behaviours.


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