Playing Tetris can Reduce PTSD

Playing Tetris can Reduce PTSD

Playing the video game "Tetris" shortly after a traumatic event, such as a auto crash, may reduce the risk of developing intrusive flashbacks of the event, a new study suggests.

PTSD can happen when someone has experienced a traumatic event where they felt their life, or the life of another person, was in danger.

"An intrusive memory is a visual memory of a traumatic event", said Emily Holmes, PhD, a psychologist at the Karolinaska Institute in Stockholm and leader of the research team that conducted the study.

According to a statement from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet on Tuesday, researchers have been able to demonstrate how the survivors of vehicle accidents have fewer such symptoms if they play Tetris in hospital within six hours of admission.

Having taken part in the psychological intervention including playing Tetris was found to reduce the number of intrusive memories participants experienced by 62 percent in the subsequent week compared to those in the control group.

"It would make a huge difference to a great many people if we could create simple behavioural psychological interventions using computer games to prevent post-traumatic suffering and spare them these grueling intrusive memories", added Professor Holmes. The researchers also found that the intrusive memories diminished more quickly, according to the statement.


About half of the patients were asked to briefly recall the accident and were then made to play Tetris, wherein the players arrange falling blocks of different colors and shapes. Among them, fifteen students were also given an iPod to play short bursts of Tetris to see if it would have any effect.

This isn't the first study to document the healing properties of Tetris.

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. Earlier studies show that roughly one in four people who have been in such accidents develop PTSD.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

"So we think it needs to be visual", said Holmes, who has spent many years studying the game's medical merits.

The researchers hypothesized that playing "Tetris" would disrupt the formation of long-term memories about the traumatic event.

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