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Fighting a craving? Tetris may help you beat it

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, May 12, 2014, 3:10 PM - With more than 170 million copies sold, Tetris is one of the most recognizable video games on the planet. Most people like the tile matching game because it’s fun -- but it turns out that playing Tetris might actually be good for your health.

Past studies have suggested the game can help treat lazy eye and improve brain function and now, it looks like Tetris could boost your health and well being.

Earlier this year researchers at Plymouth University announced that playing Tetris for as little as three minutes could cut food cravings or the desire to smoke cigarettes by almost a quarter.

The visual stimulation offered by the game provides an "essential willpower boost," according to the researchers.

"Episodes of craving normally only last a few minutes, during which time an individual is visualising what they want and the reward it will bring," explains lead Professor Jackie Andrade, who contributed to the study.


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"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."

Professor Andrade says that playing Tetris can help an individual take control of their cravings.

Tetris "is something a person can quickly access, for the most part whether they are at work or at home, and replaces the feeling of stress caused by the craving itself. Ultimately, we are constantly looking for ways to stimulate cravings for healthy activities – such as exercise – but this a neutral activity that we have shown can have a positive impact,” Andrade adds.

Just don’t play too much Tetris at one time.

If you do, you might develop “Tetris syndrome”. This is a documented condition that arises when a person spends too much time playing the game and begins to visualize their thoughts, mental images and dreams in a series on patterns.

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