Remember Tetris? The first generation video puzzle game featuring interlocking shapes that was a favorite time-wasting mechanism for millions of Generation Xer’s? Well, researchers at Cambridge and Oxford certainly do, and they have made surprising discoveries as to the correlation between playing the game and easing the frequency and impact of flashbacks for those who have experienced traumatic events.
Building off of a 2009 study that found playing Tetris within four hours of a traumatic event reduced the frequency of flashbacks, recently released findings suggest playing the computer game (a stand-in for participating in a cognitive task) can reduce the number and frequency of involuntary flashback episodes.
“We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following memory reactivation,” wrote the research team from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and the Karolinska Institute of Sweden.
Researchers stressed that the combination of the playing of the game and the reactivation of memory is the key to helping to reduce intrusive memories from involuntarily coming up.
“Playing Tetris alone … or memory reactivation alone was [insufficient) to reduce intrusion,” the report said.
Researchers also said that more research is needed in order to develop possible PTSD preventative therapies. But these results provide hope for those looking for advances in the development of drug-free treatments to aid in the prevention or easing of PTSD and other trauma-related mental health issues.