Researchers were able to retest a hypothesis proved real only in laboratory conditions. The research team found that playing the colorful tile-matching game Tetris just for a few minutes can significantly reduce cravings for sleep, substances, food, and sex.
Scientists had found that the game had such effect on addictive behaviors in a laboratory setting. But now it is the first time they got positive results outside a laboratory. Past studies found similar results but only related to food cravings. The latest study is the first to find a link between playing Tetris and diminished cravings in smokers, alcoholics, and coffee and sex addicts.
And researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and Plymouth University even have an explanation for it. They argued that when a craving occurs, the person first sees himself or herself indulging in a particular activity. But a game such as Tetris is visually appealing enough to prevent the memory and imagination from creating those alluring images in the head of addicts.
“It is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time,”
one of the researchers added.
The recent study involved 31 participants. All of them were undergraduate students of 18 to 27 years old. Researchers gave each study participant a console and asked them to play the game. During the day volunteers were contacted and asked several times what cravings they had. They were also requested to self-report those episodes on their own.
Fifteen participants were asked to play the game for three minutes at the moment a craving kicked in. The rest of participants were left to play the game as they wished.
Scientists learned that on top of the cravings list were food and sugary drinks. These cravings accounted for two-thirds of all cravings during a day and were reported 30 percent of the time.
Cravings for alcoholic drinks, smoking and coffee occurred in 20 percent of the time, while other cravings such as extra sleeping, gaming or wasting precious time on social media occurred in the rest of the time.
Participants who played the game for at least three minutes when they sensed the urge to do or eat something felt that their addictive behavior lost intensity by up to 20 percent. The research team said that the results were encouraging. Scientists now hope that Tetris can be used to treat addictions and cravings more effectively.
Dr. Jon May, senior researcher involved in the study and psychology professor, noted that the Tetris effect lasted through an entire week and affected all craving types.
A paper on the findings was recently published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
Image Source: iDigital Times