Tetris reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Possibly

Scientific report plunders new depths of ambiguity to get on the news

Tetris reduces Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Possibly
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Okay, this scientific report isn’t nearly as shameless or tenuous as Anne Diamond’s last PR campaign, but the results of this new test for reducing traumatic stress by playing games seem to be on the woolly side.

BBC News has published an item on an Oxford University experiment in which volunteers were exposed to disturbing images, and then given Tetris to play as they attempted to recover from their ordeal.

Their recollection of the disturbing film (featuring graphic images of injuries) was apparently reduced over the next week for those who engaged in a calming, casual round of block building immediately afterwards.

Dr Emily Holmes said, "We wanted to find a way to dampen down flashbacks - the raw sensory images of trauma that are over-represented in the memories of those with [post traumatic stress disorder].

"Tetris may work by competing for the brain's resources for sensory information.

"We suggest it specifically interferes with the way sensory memories are laid down in the period after trauma and thus reduces the number of flashbacks that are experienced afterwards."

Although Dr Holmes goes on to say that a lot of work needs to be done before this experiment will yield any practical information, the findings were facially sledge-hammered by Professor David Alexander from the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research, who said:

“The volunteers here knew that something was going to happen, but they were not going to be harmed - a genuinely traumatic incident is different in scale, and is usually completely unexpected and marked by feelings of loss of control."

The conclusion, then, seems to be that playing Tetris might or might not help if you’ve suffered a minor, expected shock. I’m now going to go and test whether playing Silent Hill can help to deal with the after effects of nebulous scientific reports.

Spanner Spencer
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.