Advertising
Advertising

Celebrating 30 Years of Tetris – The Puzzle Game Which Benefits Your Brain

Celebrating 30 Years of Tetris – The Puzzle Game Which Benefits Your Brain

Tetris turns 30 today, and the event is being marked by a global celebration. The legendary puzzle game was created by computer engineer and games designer Alexey Pajitnov, and it found iconic status on Nintendo’s Game Boy in the late 1980s. Since then, the smartphone boom has seen it sell over 100 million digital copies as a new generation discovered its merits.

Tetris is a global icon, uniting all cultures and ages with its addictive simplicity. It has much more to offer than outright fun, however, as numerous scientific studies suggest it has incredible benefits for the human brain. As this wonderful game celebrates a milestone, we examine how playing it could be good for your health.

Improved Brain Efficiency

Brain

    Medical News Today reported Mind Research Network’s revealing study in 2009. Based on MRI scans of female participants, it’s apparent playing Tetris led to the development of a thicker cortex. This could boost overall brain efficiency. One of the investigators, Dr. Richard Haier, acknowledged, “We were excited to see cortical thickness differences between the girls that practiced Tetris and those that did not.” He admitted, “How a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency are related remains a mystery.”

    Advertising

    It’s believed as a person improves their skills over time, the brain uses less glucose to fuel the problem solving Tetris relentlessly demands. As Jeremy Fordham states in The Neuroscience of Tetris, “What this shows is that the brain actually learns how to solve Tetris conundrums with energy efficiency while it improves performance on the same tasks that once required loads of glucose. This is a prime example of brain efficiency.”

    A few benefits of improved efficiency are: stronger performances on cognitive tests, improved concentration, and greater self control.

    Assisting With Diets and Addiction

    Food

      It’s been observed playing Tetris is a useful task for anyone wishing to control their excesses. In early 2014 Science Direct published Playing Tetris reduces the strength, frequency and vividness of naturally occurring cravings. The paper acknowledges, “Participants who had played ‘Tetris’ had significantly lower craving and less vivid craving imagery. The findings support EI theory, showing that a visuospatial working memory load reduces naturally occurring cravings, and that Tetris might be a useful task for tackling cravings outside the laboratory.”

      Advertising

      It’s been suggested a mere three minutes of play could be enough to assuage any cravings for cigarettes, alcohol, or food. The key, it would appear, is down to the visual stimulation of the game. Psychology professor Jackie Andrade, one of the study’s researchers, told the Daily News, “You look at the brightly colored shapes and have to manipulate them to make them fit the gaps. It occupies the same mental process that you need for imagining the food, drink or drug that you are craving. You can’t do both at once, so the craving suffers, which is good if you want to abstain from what you crave.”

      Potential Alleviation of Neurological Conditions

      Neurology

        Tetris has been at the centre of several studies into neurological conditions, and research in this area has been conducted for over 20 years. In 1994 Lynn Okagaki and Peter Frensch, in Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, concluded playing Tetris had positive results on spatial skills, such as mental rotation, spatial perception, and spatial visualization.

        Prolonged bouts of play can lead to the “Tetris effect”. The term is given to someone who plays Tetris to such an extent it becomes part of their visual day to day life: they can dream about tetrominos (the four part geometric shapes in the game), and organize items they see in their environment. Robert Stickgold’s research, published in 2000 by ScienceMag, noted this intriguing phenomenon, “Amnesic patients with extensive bilateral medial temporal lobe damage produced hypnagogic reports despite being unable to recall playing the game, suggesting that such imagery may arise without important contribution from the declarative memory system.”

        Advertising

        In 2009 his work was built upon in Can Playing the Computer Game ‘Tetris’ Reduce the Build-Up of Flashbacks for Trauma?. Dr. Emily A. Holmes postulated Tetris could alleviate traumatic memories. In her research she stated, “Pathological aspects of human memory in the aftermath of trauma may be malleable using non-invasive, cognitive interventions. This has implications for a novel avenue of preventative treatment development.” She added, “We are not saying that people with PTSD should play Tetris but we do think it is hugely valuable to understand how the brain works and how it produces intrusive flashback memories.”

        David Hellerstein, M.D., a professor of Clinical Psychiatry in New York, considered this proposal in a 2012 article titled Can Tetris Prevent PTSD?. He concurred with Holmes’ findings and reiterated, “Tetris players had fewer flashbacks and lower scores on measures of trauma impact.” Whilst this research remains inconclusive, it would appear Tetris has promising potential as a mind healer.

        Where To Find Tetris

        Tetris iPhone

          Tetris is available for a large range of computers, gadgets, and phones. There are a myriad of free editions online, such as FreeTetris on the official site. There are free versions on Facebook, the most popular being Tetris Battle, and you can find Tetris Blitz (a “race against time” adaptation) on Google Play.

          Advertising

          Smartphone variations have been hugely popular with over 100 millions sales to date. It’s available for $0.99 on iTunes for the iPhone and iPad, and iOS users can enjoy a free version of Tetris Blitz for a mentally stimulating two minute high score session.

          30th Anniversary Celebrations

          Tetris

            The Tetris Company is marking their birthday with a chance to win prizes and awards. Participants are encouraged to upload pictures to Twitter. As they state, “The challenge is on! Show your creative spirit and celebrate the 30th anniversary of Tetris at your very own Tetris 30th Anniversary Meetup. Tweet your photos using the hashtag #Tetris30 or #WeAllFitTogether.” You can find full details on the official site.

            If you’d like to participate, you can head to Tetris30 to discover your nearest local meetup. Whether you want to compete competitively for a high score, or meet like-minded individuals, it’s a fun occasion which absolutely everyone can enjoy. It will also do your brain some good.

            Featured photo credit: Tetris cookies/andromache via flickr.com

            More by this author

            Alex Morris

            Content Manager, Copywriter, & Blogger

            10 Relaxing Games to Play Online to Help Chill You Out 53 Fun Things You Can Do This Weekend 35 Inspirational Movies That Will Change Your Life 21 Inspirational Documentaries That Will Change Your Life 16 Educational and Inspirational Classical Music Compositions

            Trending in Health

            1 10 Best Kombucha Brands To Improve Gut Health 2 14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet 3 10 Simple Ways To Live a Longer and Happier Life 4 How to Deal With Stress the Healthy Way 5 How to Plan for a Healthy Diet for Weight Loss

            Read Next

            Advertising
            Advertising
            Advertising

            Last Updated on August 4, 2020

            8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

            8 Benefits of a Minimalist Lifestyle That Get You to Live With Less

            Minimalism is a way to put a stop to the gluttony of the world around us. It’s the opposite of every advertisement we see plastered on the radio and TV. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of stuff; we eat up consumerism, material possessions, clutter, debt, distractions and noise.

            What we don’t seem to have is any meaning left in our world.

            By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, you can throw out what you don’t need in order to focus on what you do need.

            I know first hand how little we actually need to survive. I was fortunate enough to live in a van for four months while traveling throughout Australia. This experience taught me valuable lessons about what really matters and how little we really need all this stuff we surround ourselves with.

            Less is more.

            Advertising

            Living a minimalist lifestyle is reducing.There are a few obvious benefits of minimalism such as less cleaning and stress, a more organized household and more money to be found, but there are also a few deep, life-changing benefits.

            What we don’t usually realize is that when we reduce, we reduce a lot more than just stuff.

            Consider just some of the benefits of living with fewer possessions:

            1. Create Room for What’s Important

            When we purge our junk drawers and closets we create space and peace. We lose that claustrophobic feeling and we can actually breathe again. Create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff.

            2. More Freedom

            The accumulation of stuff is like an anchor, it ties us down. We are always terrified of losing all our ‘stuff’. Let it go and you will experience a freedom like never before: a freedom from greed, debt, obsession and overworking.

            Advertising

            3. Focus on Health and Hobbies

            When you spend less time at Home Depot trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the Joneses, you create an opening to do the things you love, things that you never seem to have time for.

            Everyone is always saying they don’t have enough time, but how many people really stop and look at what they are spending their time doing?

            You could be enjoying a day with your kids, hitting up the gym, practicing yoga, reading a good book or traveling. Whatever it is that you love you could be doing, but instead you are stuck at Sears shopping for more stuff.

            4. Less Focus on Material Possessions

            All the stuff we surround ourselves with is merely a distraction, we are filling a void. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end.

            We are bombarded by the media presenting promises of happiness through materialistic measures. It’s no wonder we struggle everyday. Resist those urges. It’s an empty path, it won’t make you happy.

            Advertising

            It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. I need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. I enjoy stuff, but I also recognize that I don’t need it.

            5. More Peace of Mind

            When we cling onto material possessions we create stress because we are always afraid of losing these things. By simplifying your life you can lose your attachment to these things and ultimately create a calm, peaceful mind.

            The less things you have to worry about, the more peace you have, and it’s as simple as that.

            6. More Happiness

            When de-cluttering your life, happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence.

            You will also find happiness in being more efficient, you will find concentration by having refocused your priorities, you will find joy by enjoying slowing down.

            Advertising

            7. Less Fear of Failure

            When you look at Buddhist monks, they have no fear, and they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose.

            In whatever you wish to pursue doing you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.

            8. More Confidence

            The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness.

            What’s Next? Go Minimalism.

            If you’re ready to start living a minimalist lifestyle, these articles can help you to kickstart:

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Read Next