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article imageHow playing Tetris can curb your cravings

By Michael Thomas     Feb 18, 2014 in Science
If you crave food, a cigarette or even sex, researchers at the UK's Plymouth Institute believe you can cut back on those urges by playing Tetris.
“We know that cravings are associated with drug use, and early dropout of weight-loss programs,” said Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at Plymouth's Cognition Institute. “They make life difficult.”
The research team tested a group of people who reported that they had "natural" cravings; that is, cravings not deliberately brought on by exposure to a tantalizing object. Half the group were given a game of Tetris to play, while the other were put in front of a computer that featured an unchanging "loading screen."
After the two experiences, the subjects were asked to rate their cravings. Researchers found that those who played Tetris had 24 percent weaker cravings than those who just saw the loading screen.
The reason for this is because Tetris, which requires rotating shapes and creating lines, is a game that distracts the part of the brain responsible for cravings. That part of the brain produces imagery of the thing one is craving, so the mental process for playing Tetris blocks it out.
Tetris is also a fun game, which makes it a more effective tool than another trick used to reduce cravings, which involves visualizing a pyramid and repeatedly flipping it over in one's mind.
The experiment flipped the idea of cravings on its head. While cravings have been shown to decrease attention span and the ability to do multiple things at once, the team instead had tasks interfere with cravings, as opposed to vice versa.
This isn't the first time a video game has been beneficial to health. Earlier this month, a team at Nottingham-Trent University found that fitness video games can help new mothers lose their pregnancy weight in three months.
More about Tetris, Video games, Weight loss, cravings
 
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