Sunday, September 7, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

3 minutes of Tetris reduces cravings for food, drink and cigarettes

This undated screen shot provided by THQ shows the game "Tetris Evolution." (AP Photo/THQ)
This undated screen shot provided by THQ shows the game "Tetris Evolution." (AP Photo/THQ)

Are you on a diet and craving something sweet? Or maybe you’re trying to kick your smoking habit but can’t get the rush of nicotine out of your head? Beating those cravings could be as simple as playing Tetris.

According to researchers from Plymouth University's Cognition Institute, visual stimulation provided by the computer game can help you master your willpower.

As anyone who has played Angry Birds or Candy Crush knows well, video games are great distractions. The idea of using a video game as a distraction is based on the elaborated intrusion (EI) theory that visual imagery is the key to cravings. So by performing another visual task, like stacking falling blocks on a computer screen, you can trick your brain into forgetting about that cookie or cigarette you were craving just minutes ago.

Plymouth University News explains how the study was conducted:

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  • Turning off the hunger alarm
  • Participants were asked to detail if and what they were craving and to rate the cravings in terms of their strength, vividness and intrusiveness. One group then played Tetris. A second group was sat in front of a screen and told it was attempting to load, but ultimately not playing. After just three minutes, the participants were again asked to rate their cravings.

    PhD student Jessica Skorka-Brown, alongside Professors Jackie Andrade and Jon May concluded that participants playing the game experienced less vivid, less frequent and less intense cravings by 24 percent.

    So the next time you’re feeling particularly susceptible to temptation, break out that old Game Boy and stack some blocks!


    Kelly O'Shea Senior Health Producer,
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