Playing Tetris shortly after traumatic experiences helps accident victims and war casualties ward off traumatic flashbacks, British researchers have found.
Sounds silly, but given how much of your brain Tetris can end up controlling – to the point of seeing it when you close your eyes – it’s not that farfetched to me. A team of scientists at the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University believes it could lead to new treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related issues.
How they did it: 40 volunteers were shown “traumatic images of injury from a variety of sources” such as advertisements depicting the graphic dangers of drunk driving. After a 30 minute break, half the volunteers played Tetris for 10 minutes and the other half did nothing. The group that played Tetris experienced “significantly fewer flashbacks over the next week,” writes The Telegraph.
The lead researcher believes Tetris helps in blocking the storage of painful memories, provided the game is played immediately after the traumatic event. It’s because the brain, which is basically divided into sensory and analytical portions, has a limit on what it can do at the same time. So Tetris’ analytical demands helps interfere with the way memories are retained.
The researchers note that there’s about a six-hour window after trauma before the memory becomes permanent. So if you see something gruesome – like, I dunno, a knife through a wallhacker’s head – chill out, find a computer, sit down and line up some blocks for about 10 minutes.
Tetris Could Reduce Long-Term Stress After Major Trauma [The Telegraph, thanks deanbmmv]