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Playing Tetris Helps With Stress Disorders


According to a new study mentioned in The Smithsonian, people suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can help to alleviate the effects and lower the possibility of flashbacks by playing the classic computer animation games Tetris.

Tetris was invented in Russia during the last decade of the USSR. The game uses shapes (or “Tetriminos”), which the player has to assemble together within a set period of time. For the uninitiated a free version can be found here.

Writing in New Scientist magazine, science columnist Jessica Griggs reports: “If an event is particularly traumatic, vivid memories of it can reoccur. These intrusive flashbacks are distressing for anyone, but in a proportion of cases they can persist and contribute to PTSD”.

Researchers led by Emily Holmes found that playing the game four hours after being exposed to trauma reduced the number of subsequent flashbacks. However, getting people to play the game so close to a traumatic event is fraught with practical problems. Nonetheless, the research went onto show that playing the game some days after a major traumatic event was beneficial.

The study has been published in the journal PLoS One, in a paper headed “Can Playing the Computer Game “Tetris” Reduce the Build-Up of Flashbacks for Trauma? A Proposal from Cognitive Science.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.