Tests reveal that despite being relatively simple compared to today’s sophisticated video games, regular practise can increase a players’ grey matter and improve thinking.
The findings were made after experiments with teenage girls who were asked to play Tetris for half an hour a day for three months.
Scans revealed “structural changes” in parts of their brains “associated with movement, critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing,” said researchers in a report to be published by the journal BMC Research Notes.
The scientists from the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, US, also believe that practising the game – which involves juggling falling shapes into neat blocks on a computer screen – may boost “mental efficiency”.
Neuropsychologist Dr Rex Jung said: “One of the most surprising findings of brain research in the last five years was that juggling practice increased grey matter in the motor areas of the brain.
“We did our Tetris study to see if mental practice increased cortical thickness, a sign of more grey matter. If it did, it could be an explanation for why previous studies have shown that mental practice increases brain efficiency.”
More grey matter could mean that certain areas of the brain do not need to work as hard to complete complex tasks.
Psychologist and co-author Dr Richard Haier added: “We were excited to see cortical thickness differences between the girls that practiced Tetris and those who did not.”
Tetris was developed by a Russian programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, in 1984 and remains one of the world’s most popular computer games.