Could a Video Game be the Answer to Treating PTSD?
By Scott Sarvay
May 2, 2012Updated May 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM EDT
UNDATED (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – It’s widely known that soldiers who return from war sometimes have a hard time reintegrating with normal society after having gone through the traumatic stresses of war. But according to one research team Tetris could be the answer to treating PTSD.
In a study presented last week at the British Psychology Society Annual Conference, a team led by Oxford psychiatry expert Dr. Emily Holmes concluded that when Tetris was played soon after exposure to trauma, the game served as “a cognitive vaccine” that seemed to “inoculate against the build-up of flashbacks.”
The team hypothesizes that Tetris places demands on the brain that interfere with its ability to form and retain the traumatic memories that later emerge as flashbacks.
60 study participants were exposed to “a film of traumatic scenes of injury and death.” Thirty minutes later, participants were divvied into three groups: A lucky third of the group played Tetris, while their peers either took a 10-minute computerized trivia quiz or “sat quietly” doing nothing much at all. Participants were then freed from the lab, and asked to keep a week-long journal logging any traumatic flashbacks of the film.
According to the researchers, participants who played Tetris reported significantly fewer flashbacks than their fellow study participants. More specifically, Tetris-players suffered an average of two flashbacks, those given no task suffered an average of 4.5, and those who took a trivia quiz were afflicted with eight flashbacks.
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