68. Tetris and PTSD
Tetris is a game we all (should) know and love. It’s fun as shit and frustrating as fuck. But apparently, according to the latest issue of the Economist, it is also useful in treating PTSD. I don’t know how to write about it better than the writers for the Economist, so I’ll quote liberally from this really cool article.
“This year,” the article says, “a group of British scientists suggested a [simple] therapy: playing the video game Tetris.”
“In an experiment, the scientists had 40 adults watch a 12 minute film filled with graphic scenes of traffic accidents, surgeries and a drowning – material that often produces mild flashbacks even when viewed only in a movie. Half an hour after the film, half the participants were asked to sit quietly for 10 minutes and the other half were asked to play Tetris for 10 minutes…The group that played Tetris fared far better – experiencing 42% fewer flashbacks over one week.”
“The scientists suspect the Tetris vaccine works because flashbacks are registered primarily as visual memories. By playing Tetris right after a trauma, the visual cortex becomes so busy that the brain doesn’t encode the horrific visual imagery in the way that it otherwise might…And Tetris is non-verbal, so it doesn’t impinge upon other crucial work the brain does to help make sense of – and cope with – a traumatic episode.”
Tetris isn’t yet confirmed as an effective therapy, but hey – let’s get all those soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan Gameboys for Christmas.
Another blogger’s comments here.