Tetris could have therapeutic applications in treating addictions if a newly released study is correct.
The hit game that requires our attention in order to build blocks and thus have a feeling of reward in the end has been found to be the perfect means for blocking cravings, from food to sex or drugs.
Conducted by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and researchers at the Plymouth University, the study showed how playing Tetris affected 31 undergraduate students selected to participate in the restricted experiment.
Over the course of one week, the participants’ behavior was observed in their natural environment. All they had to do is report their cravings seven times per day, at the researchers’ request. At the same time, fifteen of the participants reported their craving levels after being prompted to play Tetris for an average of three minutes each of the seven times.
To have a fully encompassing view, the researchers encouraged the participants, aged 18 to 27 to also self-report their cravings, whatever they may be, as many times as possible during the day, before and after playing the block-building game.
The results of the study, published in the Addictive Behaviours journal showed that over the seven-day timeframe, 30 percent of the most common cravings were for food and drinks. Non-alcoholic drinks.
Another 21 percent of the students reported cravings related to alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, coffee, while 16 percent would have enjoyed to play video games, sleep, have sex or be with their friends. Playing Tetris inhibited the cravings to a large extent.
Professor Jackie Andrade of the Plymouth University explained:
“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupied the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time”.
Cravings weren’t just momentarily inhibited during the experiment. The decrease of cravings dropped and maintained at low levels throughout the week as long as the participants were busy playing Tetris for a while, besides going about their daily schedules.
As such, Tetris could be the next prescribed therapeutic treatment for a wider array of addictions.
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