Can Playing Tetris Block Traumatic Memories?

Posted March 30, 2017

But, as Sarah Knapton reports for The Telegraph, a new study suggests that intrusive memories can be mitigated by a less conventional method: playing Tetris.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied a group of 71 patients who had been admitted to the emergency room of an Oxford hospital after experiencing a auto accident. The National Institute of Mental Health says that PTSD can also occur in people who haven't experienced a unsafe event, as in the unexpected death of a loved one.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have been experimenting with this idea for a while, mainly by showing gory film clips to volunteers. They were split into two groups (balanced for age, gender and the severity of the risk they had personally faced in the accident) with one group asked to play Tetris for at least 10 minutes uninterrupted (and preferably 20 minutes) on a Nintendo DS at some point in the six hours after the accident. Results showed that the researchers' hypothesis was right: those who had played Tetris had fewer intrusive memories of the trauma in total over the week immediately following the accident than the controls. The intrusive memories that did occur went away more quickly.

The academics behind the study said their findings are the beginnings of a case for rolling out video games in hospital waiting rooms on a larger scale - as a "therapeutic vaccine" to mental trauma before it fully forms. Her team at the University of Oxford gave Tetris therapy to patients admitted to a large United Kingdom hospital emergency department in a state of shock following road traffic accidents.

Hot Wizards visit struggling Lakers
Anchored by an 9-0 run from the second unit to start the fourth quarter, the Wizards would go on a 49-22 run over the final 14:53. The Lakers have lost 16 of 18 since the All-Star break and have eight games remaining before missing the playoffs yet again.

In the study, those who underwent Tetris therapy were far less likely to experience terrifying flashbacks of their crashes than those who did not receive the intervention. The researchers therefore believe that introducing science-driven psychological treatment methods such as behavioural protocols including Tetris that could be delivered by staff during this waiting period could be a straightforward way by which to reduce the later impact of patients' psychological trauma.

Scientists from Queensland University of Technology and Plymouth University, Australia, say playing Tetris can help people curb cravings for things like alcohol, coffee and cigarettes.

A small study some years ago found an adapted version of Tetris helped treat a condition known as amblyopia or lazy eye.

Their study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, wanted to assess whether this type of gaming could disrupting consolidation of a trauma memory.