New Study Suggests Playing Tetris Might Help Reduce Onset of PTSD

The classic game might help prevent intrusive memories and flashbacks

A new study has recently shown that playing Tetris soon after a traumatic event might actually offset the development of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental illness that occurs as a result of experiencing some sort of trauma, and not necessarily from a single event. After a traumatic event (or multiple events), the distress and/or anxiety experienced in relation to that event or events can lead to the development of PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD fall under multiple categories, ranging from anywhere between cognitive symptoms to avoidance symptoms and combinations of multiple categories.

A common symptom of PTSD is repeatedly thinking about an event over and over again and feeling everything that comes with it. Apparently, playing a game like Tetris impedes on this visualization, preventing it from becoming a common recurrence in your mind.

Here is screenshot of GarlicClone.

Posted by Tetris Online Poland on Thursday, February 23, 2012

“An intrusive memory is a visual memory of a traumatic event,” said Emily Holmes, Professor of Psychology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. “Tetris also requires imagination and vision. Your brain can’t do two things at once, so this interrupts.”

Holmes’ team led the study, which focused specifically on the game Tetris, which is often played on a computer, tablet device, or smartphone.

The team behind the study tested Tetris on 71 patients that were waiting in a UK emergency room following a car accident. Half of the patients received standard treatment, while the other half were asked to play Tetris as well as recall their trauma within six hours of the accident. The patients were given the game to take home and Holmes’ team monitored the patients for a week after the emergency room event.

The cohort that played Tetris reported 62% less intrusive memories than the other group.

Holmes notes that more research needs to be done, and she is looking into conducting the study over a longer period of time, as well as testing other options aside from Tetris.