Playing Tetris May Build Up Your Brain

ByABC News
September 2, 2009, 8:18 PM

Sept. 3 -- WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Regularly playing the video game Tetris may increase gray matter in your brain and make you think more efficiently, researchers in New Mexico report.

MRIs done on 26 adolescent girls asked to play the popular puzzle game for half an hour daily over three months found improved efficiency in parts of the brain associated with critical thinking, reasoning, and language and processing.

Scans also revealed increases in matter in the brain's cortex in areas linked to complex, coordinated movements and integrating sensory experiences, such as sight, sound and touch, with other information.

In Tetris, a computer game developed about 25 years ago, players score points by rotating colored puzzle pieces as they fall so they land in completed rows.

"We were excited to see cortical thickness differences between the girls that practiced Tetris and those that did not," co-investigator Richard Haier, a psychologist with the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, said in a news release issued by his employer. "But, it was surprising that these changes were not where we saw more efficiency. How a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency are related remains a mystery."

The study appears in the current issue of the journal BMC Research Notes.

The researchers hope future studies will examine whether Tetris playing and the brain changes it creates lead to improvements in other areas, such as working memory or spatial reasoning, and whether halting regular play causes the brain to revert to its previous state.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about healthy screen habits for children.

SOURCE: BioMed Central Limited, news release, Sept. 1, 2009