For those trying to quit smoking, drinking or successfully master a diet, the block-stacking classic Tetris could be a key to success, according to a study released by Plymouth University in the United Kingdom.
The study tests Elaborated Intrusion Theory, suggesting that imagery is central to our cravings, so giving the brain a visual task will alleviate the compulsion.
Subjects experiencing cravings were asked to play Tetris for three minutes. They either had the chance to play, or were presented with a three-minute long loading screen — artificially created by the testers. Those who did get to play reported a 24 percent drop in cravings.
The study was lead by PhD student Jessica Skorka-Brown, with professors Jackie Andrade and John May. The study abstract notes it is the first time lab tests had been done on "naturally occurring cravings", instead of those stimulated by the researchers.
"Episodes of craving normally only last a few minutes, during which time an individual is visualizing what they want and the reward it will bring. Often those feelings result in the person giving in and consuming the very thing they are trying to resist. But by playing Tetris, just in short bursts, you are preventing your brain creating those enticing images and without them the craving fades," said Andrade in Medicalxpress.
So if sticking to your diet or dumping smoking are proving difficult, considering loading a game of Tetris, or even another visual puzzler, to get your brain back on track.