Playing Tetris After Trauma Cuts Flashbacks
Research could help PTSD sufferers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2010 3:44 AM CST
The image-driven nature of "Tetris" helps reduce flashbacks, researchers say.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(Newser) – Playing Tetris probably isn't the first thing most people think of after a traumatic event, but researchers say doing so could reduce the risk of the flashbacks associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. A group of volunteers who played the shape-stacking computer game after being shown a video of traumatic images reported fewer flashbacks than a group who didn't play anything. A third group who played word-based game "Pub Quiz Machine" reported more flashbacks than the other two groups.

Researchers believe the image-driven nature of the game helps reduce flashbacks by interfering with the way memories are implanted after trauma. "We think it works because it's competing with resources with the same kind of visual memory that would otherwise make a visual flashback, because flashbacks themselves are strong images," the lead researcher tells ABC News. The team plans more studies to direct findings toward helping PTSD sufferers.