According to a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors Tetris could be an efficient way to stop cravings. Researchers from Plymouth University in collaboration with researchers from Queensland University of Technology have proved that playing Tetris for only three minutes can decrease cravings.
Cravings are something usual which most people deal with. According to various theories which psychologists have developed about cravings, they could be explained through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis’s need for a break from stress, deficiencies of certain nutrients or low levels of serotonin which is a calming hormone that generates desires for particular foods.
The study involved 31 participants with ages between 18 and 27. All of them were sent text messages seven times in order to be reminded to report what cravings they experienced and at what intensity. Of course the participants were required to report the cravings themselves as well. They were split into two groups: a control group and a group in which the participants were given an iPod on which to play Tetris. They were required to play Tetris for three minutes every time they felt a craving for a certain activity or substance.
Co-author of the study Professor Jon May from Plymouth University commented on the results of the study:
The impact of Tetris on craving was consistent across the week and on all craving types. People played the game 40 times on average, but the effect did not seem to wear off. This finding is potentially important because an intervention that worked solely because it was novel and unusual would have diminishing benefits over time as participants became familiar with it.”
According to the findings playing Tetris reduced craving from 70% to 56%. After playing Tetris the participants experienced craving only 30% of the time and they were mostly represented by food and beverages. Cravings for drugs including coffee, wine, beer and cigarettes were reduced to 21%. Other activities such as sleeping, socializing and sex occupied 16% of the time.
According to the researchers cravings involves imagining a certain activity or consuming a certain substance. Since Tetris is a visually stimulating game it interrupts the mental process that supports imagery related to cravings.
Professor Jackie Andrade of the School of Psychology and the Cognition Institute at Plymouth University who was also involved in the study believes that Tetris could be used as a support tool by people who are dealing with cravings and addiction.
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