Tetris is a classic 80’s game that has addictively passed the time for millions of us throughout the years. If you have ever found yourself closing your eyes and dreaming about those falling tetrominoes, then you have experienced the Tetris effect.
The Tetris effect or (Tetris Syndrome) becomes noticeable after prolonged periods of gameplay. This psychological effect occurs with other video games, and even non-video games, such as repetitive tasks that involve particular shapes, colors, and movements. These illusions of self -motion can even be described by mathematicians dreaming of equations, and computer programmers dreaming of endless lines of code, and rock climbers looking for the next spot to place their hands and feet.
When we learn a new process through repetition, our brains experience this effect. Studies showed that participants used extremely high amounts of glucose to succeed at Tetris gameplay. Through consistent daily gameplay, their brains began to consume less glucose while performing even better than the previous day. So what is happening to our brain when this effect is taking place?
Researchers have proposed that the memory brought about from Tetris imagery is most likely related to procedural memory/ muscle memory, which is based on implicit learning and not conscious recall. Implicit learning happens when we learn something from repetitive practice. Research has shown that subjects with anterograde amnesia, reported dreaming of falling shapes after extensive Tetris play, even though they couldn’t remember playing the game at all.
What is remarkable about this, is while our brain is remembering the actions of gameplay throughout the day, new neural networks are formed in order to improve our performance. Basically, your brain is developing to help you become a better gamer. Experiments have shown that Tetris had a positive effect on spatial visualisation, and mental rotation. So tell your boss that there is a good reason for you Candy Crushing during work hours!