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UK Study Shows Tetris Can Help with PTSD

By - Source: PLoS ONE via Wired | B 8 comments

Tetris helps but the same can not be said of all games.

A team of researchers from Oxford University have conducted additional research into the theory that Tetris can help prevent people from developing PTSD. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that can affect those that have suffered through traumatic psychological events and is not uncommon among troops returning from war. Overcoming PTSD is difficult but a study in 2009 showed that Tetris helped when played after experiencing trauma. This led Dr. Emily Holmes at the University of Oxford's Department of Psychiatry to investigate as to whether the same could be said of all computer games.

The study chose the computer game Pub Quiz to compare against Tetris' ability to reduce the effects of PTSD. According to the study, participants viewed traumatic footage of death and injury before completing one of the following tasks: Playing Tetris, playing Pub Quiz, or doing nothing (control group). The participants flashbacks to the traumatic events were then monitored for one week.

The researchers found that playing Tetris half an hour after viewing the film reduced the number of flashbacks experienced when compared to the control group. Interestingly, Pub Quiz led to an increase in flashbacks experienced after this experiment.

The second experiment showed that playing Tetris four hours post-film also reduced flashbacks when compared to the no-task group. The Pub Quiz did not reduce flashbacks in this experiment, nor did this group experience significantly more flashbacks than the control group. The study also found that when asked one week later, members of each group all had comparable scores on a recognition test based on the video they had seen, meaning Tetris didn't interfere with their memories of the film, just the formation of flashbacks.

The study says Tetris or another simple visuospatial task may act as a 'cognitive vaccine' that inoculates against the build-up of flashbacks by interfering with formation. What's more, researchers say that because the beneficial effects of Tetris are retained at four hours post-trauma, there's a feasible time-window to administer this "cognitive vaccine" post-trauma.

Wired reports that the study was presented last week at the British Psychology Society Annual Conference. You can check it out for yourself by clicking through to PLoS ONE to access the full paper.

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  • 3 Hide
    Lord Captivus , May 3, 2012 12:50 PM
    Are people getting paid for this? One week study? OMG!! That’s statistically significant!
    I particularly like this part:
    The second experiment showed that playing Tetris four hours post-film also reduced flashbacks when compared to the no-task group.
    If I’m getting this, it says that you can choose to play Tetris 4 hours or don’t do anything...same effect...
    Wait, i have more!!
    I did a quick reading of the "paper" (link in article), it says that they tested 60 people!! WOW!! 60 people and 1 week!!
    Gauss-Jordan is laughing from the grave!
  • -2 Hide
    el33t , May 3, 2012 2:01 PM
    True say...

    But someone playing tetris on his Alienware 17x is like making his grandma drive his Ferrari....
  • 1 Hide
    aftcomet , May 3, 2012 2:16 PM
    Lord CaptivusAre people getting paid for this? One week study? OMG!! That’s statistically significant!I particularly like this part:The second experiment showed that playing Tetris four hours post-film also reduced flashbacks when compared to the no-task group.If I’m getting this, it says that you can choose to play Tetris 4 hours or don’t do anything...same effect...Wait, i have more!!I did a quick reading of the "paper" (link in article), it says that they tested 60 people!! WOW!! 60 people and 1 week!! Gauss-Jordan is laughing from the grave!


    Sometimes I think people on Tom's simply comment to try and prove a flaw in everything.
  • -2 Hide
    madooo12 , May 3, 2012 6:31 PM
    for the gaming community, tetris is boring, I think if I play it too much I'd get PTSD (I don't know what it is)
  • -1 Hide
    Prince_Porter , May 3, 2012 7:32 PM
    I play Tetris quite a bit, I'm a rank 93 / 100 in Tetris Battle on Facebook, and enjoy the game quite a bit. I'm a hardcore gamer, but appreciate the simplicity of a fast paced skill game.

    As for the study, I'd love to hear numbers on how many people, and how much of an increase or decrease, but it's interesting either way.
  • -1 Hide
    DXRick , May 3, 2012 7:34 PM
    There needs to be more testing. Go to the middle east, follow a military caravan around until one gets blown up, and give a handheld Tetris game to one survivor and a lollipop to another to see the difference!
  • -1 Hide
    psaus , May 4, 2012 2:41 AM
    I'm all for Tetris... wasted many a hour on that game. But I'm almost certain I read this exact news more than a year ago. Because it was that long ago I can't find out where...
    Slow news day... oh wait, Galaxy 3 was released today... hmm. strange. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    dannyhaszard , June 5, 2012 4:40 PM

    PTSD treatment for Veterans found ineffective.

    Eli Lilly made $65 billion on the Zyprexa franchise.Lilly was fined $1.4 billion for Zyprexa fraud!
    The atypical antipsychotics (Zyprexa,Risperdal,Seroquel) are like a 'synthetic' Thorazine,only they cost ten times more than the old fashioned typical antipsychotics.
    These newer generation drugs still pack their list of side effects like diabetes for the user.All these drugs work as so called 'major tranquilizers'.This can be a contradiction with PTSD suffers as we are hyper vigilant and feel uncomfortable with a drug that puts you to sleep and makes you sluggish.
    That's why drugs like Zyprexa don't work for PTSD survivors like myself
    .
    -Daniel Haszard FMI http://www.zyprexa-victims.com