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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.”

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    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.”

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      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.”

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        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.

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          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

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            Last Updated on May 21, 2020

            The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

            The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

            You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

            Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

            Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

            An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

            Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

            1. The Paleo Diet

            The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

            The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

            In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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            How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

            The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

            With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

            It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

            Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

            2. Whole30

            The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

            With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

            During the month you are eliminating:

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            • sugar
            • alcohol
            • legumes
            • grains
            • dairy
            • soy

            Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

            At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

            Finding Out How Food Impacts You

            Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

            With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

            This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

            3. The Mediterranean Diet

            The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

            For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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            With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

            • Fruits & vegetables
            • Whole grains
            • Legumes & nuts
            • Replacing butter with olive oil
            • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
            • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
            • Moderate amounts of red wine

            Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

            Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

            With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

            4. The Alkaline Diet

            The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

            The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

            Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

            The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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            People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

            One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

            Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

            There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

            The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

            What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

            The Big Takeaway:

            Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

            Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

            Reference

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