Can playing Tetris Block Traumatic Memories?

New research suggests that the engaging, visual-spatial nature of the game may disrupt the formation “intrusive memories”

Traumatic events can cause people to experience "intrusive memories"—distressing recollections that occur without warning, summoning the sights, sounds and feelings connected to the painful incident. Such symptoms are often treated with psychotherapy. But, as Sarah Knapton reports for The Telegraph, a new study suggests that intrusive memories can be mitigated by a less conventional method: playing Tetris.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied a group of 71 patients who had been admitted to the emergency room of an Oxford hospital after experiencing a car accident. Half of the subjects were used as a control group. The rest were asked to recall the traumatic crash, and then play a 20-minute game of Tetris. The study, published recently in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found that patients who played Tetris within six hours of the crash experienced 62 percent fewer intrusive memories during the week following the incident compared to patients in the control group. Researchers wrote that the game acts as a “therapeutic vaccine” of sorts, appearing to prevent the formation of traumatic memories.

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