Tetris can reduce post traumatic stress, say researchers

Playing the classic video game Tetris soon after a traumatic experience can help reduce the symptoms of post traumatic stress, such as bad memories and flashbacks, according to British researchers from Oxford University.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the researchers, led by Dr Emily Holmes of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, showed traumatic and distressing images from various sources to 40 volunteers. After a wait of 30 minutes half of the volunteers played Tetris for 10 minutes. Over the course of the next week, the half who had played the game had far fewer flashbacks than those who had not played the game.

It is believed that the computer game helps to block the painful memories from being stored by the brain, providing the game is played within six hours of the traumatic event. As the brain is split into two sections - one sensory and one analytical - the analytical gameplay of Tetris helps to interfere with storage of the traumatic memories.

The research team hope that the discovery will help to provide new treatments for those who have experienced traumatic events.

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