Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge who are trying to find ways to assist people who have been through recent traumatic experiences believe that the popular Tetris game can help prevent the forming of PTSD after an unsettling event.
The recent study revealed that Tetris can help in blocking intrusive memories that are associated with terrible events. By playing Tetris, a patient can help form a cognitive blockade as the game forces visual processing that is able to diminish unsettling memories.
Participants in the new study were given a short unsettling movie with horrible scenes, like car accidents and drowning. The next day after, the people were given a series of still images from the movie in order to reactivate those memories. The participants were split into two groups. One of the groups was asked to do nothing at all while the other one was asked to play Tetris. The half of the participants who played Tetris had over 50% less intrusive memories from the movie than the other half. The group that was asked to play Tetris also scored a lot lower on a survey that is being used for PTSD diagnosing.
Emily Holmes, the lead researcher said that they used Tetris as it was previously researched and it was shown to use up the visual attention of the person playing. She compared playing Tetris with hand washing, as the activity isn’t necessarily something spectacular but is able to reduce all kinds of diseases. She added that if this proves to be successful, it could become a cheap and widely available measure against the forming of PTSD in an individual that suffered a traumatic event.
The scientist also added that other games similar to Tetris like Candy Crush may have the same effect as the Russian puzzle game. Holmes and her team are currently conducting studies on individuals who were involved in car accidents.
However, some people weren’t very impressed by the result of the study because it was done by replicating disturbing memories with the help of visual images, rather than focusing on real ones. Experts claimed that this is completely different from actually experiencing traumatic memories first hand.
Jaine Darwin, a crisis and trauma intervention specialist from Massachusetts said that if a person watches a horror film, that person can be scared for a long time but this experience lacks the actual feel of the event. She did add, however, that the study is quite interesting but it needs a lot more before it can be applied on real PTSD patients.
The study claiming that playing Tetris helps PTSD was published in the Psychological Science journal.
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