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Tetris is good for the brain, study claims

According to the Mind Research Network, Tetris not only improves brain function, but it also changes it.

3 min read

I met a perfectly lovely young woman this weekend who told me that when she was a teenager she took Ecstasy, snorted coke, and inhaled pot as if it were dim sum on a Sunday morning.

So I found myself relieved beyond the effects of a hot stone massage to discover that research on teenage girls has shown that when they play Tetris it has a wonderfully positive effect on their brains.

The Mind Research Network, which appears to be a nonprofit organization that examines brain injury and mental illness, decided to spend three months of its life and donations on watching what happens when teenage girls play Tetris.

The network's scientists seem giddy about the results: consistent practice on the pleasantly mind-numbing little game seems to have given the girls a thicker cortex, as well as creating more brain efficiency in other parts of their tender gray areas.

Now, I'm not sure that every teenage girl on earth will be excited about having a thicker cortex, but the brain of Dr. Rex Jung, one of the boffins behind this experiment, is veritably bursting with joy.

"We did our Tetris study to see if mental practice increased cortical thickness, a sign of more gray matter," Dr. Jung said Monday in a press statement.

Cc TotalAldo/Flickr

He continued: "If it did, it could be an explanation for why previous studies have shown that mental practice increases brain efficiency. More gray matter in an area could mean that the area would not need to work as hard during Tetris play."

Essentially, the excitement engendered by this little game playing seems to revolve around the notion that the brain's structure is not as fixed as scientists of old had assumed.

However, I feel I need now explore the frisson of doubt that overcomes me every time I read research. You see, this study does not help us discover the actual relationship between a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency.

How might I know this? Why, because I read the smaller print, in which Dr. Richard Haier, a co-investigator of the Tetrisettes, said: "How a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency are related remains a mystery."

You see, the functioning of teenage girls' brains is, as one has always thought, an utter befuddlement.

While the scientists claim that they used girls in the study because boys tend to have too much video game experience, I am now wondering just one thing: were these Tetrisettes drug-tested?

I know you might think this is far fetched. I know you may think I only meet lovely girls who are strange and tell outlandish tales of teenage drug use.

But, you see, there were only 26 girls in this study. And if I'm to believe that the actions of teenage girls will somehow inform our knowledge of the brain, I want them tested for coke, pot, E, and, definitely, crystal meth.

Interestingly, the study's notes say that none of the girls was taking a prescription medication. But neither were so many baseball players in the 1990s.

Perhaps my zeal for scientific purity, otherwise known as my skepticism, may be excessive here.

But perhaps it was made excessive by some small print in the study. I know your cortex will become thinner on receiving this information, but the study was funded by "Blue Planet Software (BPS), Inc., the company holding exclusive licensing rights to Tetris".