Traumatised in the last six hours? Fire up Tetris, stat!

‘Blocking’ bad memories

Traumatised in the last six hours? Fire up Tetris, stat!
| Tetris

As anyone who survives beyond level nine on Tetris will attest, it can result in mental trauma. But Dr Emily Holmes, who researches PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) at Oxford University’s Institute of Psychiatry, is more interested in the game's curative properties.

Dr Holmes (BBC News reports) has discovered that playing Tetris requires many of the same areas of the brain that deal with the formation of memories. As a result, playing the game can disrupt these memories and prevent them from solidifying.

Unfortunately for anybody already reaching for their iPhone to rid themselves of the memory of that xmas staff party, the window of opportunity is only open for six hours after the event.

In the experiment, volunteers were shown clips of traumatic events and then split into two groups. One was asked to sit quietly and contemplate, while the other played Tetris. The results showed that the second group suffered half as many flashbacks, and that they were less vivid or disturbing.

Whilst this is scientifically fascinating, it's not yet a practical solution. But it does mean that those of us who keep games in their pocket have some interesting options available to them.

For example, after you tell your boss how you really feel about him next December, make sure you suggest he plays a game of Tetris within six hours of the traumatic event and the memory of your remonstrations will be vanquished, allowing you to keep your job.

Ben Maxwell
Ben Maxwell
Ben is an eager young games journalist who, when touring with his band, happily replaces sex, drugs, and rock & roll with Advance Wars, Drop7, rock, and Rolando...