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Puzzle Games (Games) United Kingdom Games Science

Tetris May Reduce PTSD, But Pub Quiz Makes It Worse 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the yeah-that-makes-sense dept.
Last year we discussed news that researchers from Oxford University discovered playing Tetris after watching a disturbing film reduced the amount of intrusive flashbacks experienced by test subjects. The researchers then wondered if that was true for other games, so they began a new study, the results of which were just published in the journal PLoS ONE. Reader SpuriousLogic points out that while they repeated their earlier finding about Tetris, they also found that subjects who played trivia game Pub Quiz instead reported more flashbacks. "Research tells us that there is a period of up to six hours after the trauma in which it is possible to interfere with the way that these traumatic memories are formed in the mind. During this time-frame, certain tasks can compete with the same brain channels that are needed to form the memory. This is because there are limits to our abilities in each channel: for example, it is difficult to hold a conversation while doing math problems. The Oxford team reasoned that recognizing the shapes and moving the colored building blocks around in Tetris competes with the images of trauma in the perceptual information channel. Consequently, the images of trauma (the flashbacks) are reduced. The team believe that this is not a simple case of distracting the mind with a computer game, as answering general knowledge questions in the Pub Quiz game increased flashbacks. The researchers believe that this verbal based game competes with remembering the contextual meaning of the trauma, so the visual memories in the perceptual channel are reinforced and the flashbacks are increased."
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Tetris May Reduce PTSD, But Pub Quiz Makes It Worse

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  • Tetris flashbacks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is not so surprising. If you've ever played Tetris for any amount of time, you'll know that for hours afterward you'll have flashbacks of falling shapes. That leaves no time for traumatic flashbacks.

  • Unusual. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't learning to cope with it be the better alternative, as opposed to using the brain's magical hardware to numb it away?

    All things being equal, I am glad I learned how to cope with shock. Goatse? 2G1C? 1Guy1Jar? BME? I feel like I am better off handing them as opposed to trying to dull my memories of them with (admittedly interesting) brain tricks.

    • Wouldn't learning to cope with it be the better alternative, as opposed to using the brain's magical hardware to numb it away?

      All things being equal, I am glad I learned how to cope with shock. Goatse? 2G1C? 1Guy1Jar? BME? I feel like I am better off handing them as opposed to trying to dull my memories of them with (admittedly interesting) brain tricks.

      BME Pain Olympics is fake.
      (At least, the parts most people have seen and fuss over - name the dick severing, ball smashing, etc.)

      • Really? I'm a little disappointed now. I thought I was at least getting a little retribution for the damage to my mind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You're only treating the symptom though. Learning cope with bad flashbacks is a difficult process and in the end: You're still having bad flashbacks.

      It's not magically "numbing" it so that you don't have to deal with it, it's making it so that you don't HAVE the flashbacks, or at least as many. Wouldn't you rather NOT have flashbacks than having to learn to deal with them?

      Your method while soundly makes a person capable of functioning again - it's simply not as efficient as reducing the flashbacks with a si

    • Yeah... because watching disturbing videos on the internet is exactly as difficult to get over as getting shot at, and shooting other people in combat. Why, it's practically the same thing. [/sarcasm]

      Ever actually see someone suffer a real, honest to goodness war flashback? It took 20 minutes to get one of my co-workers out from underneath a table after a helicopter flew overhead once. Given the choice between learning to deal with that kind of intense flashback and not having that flashback at all, I g

      • by Xaedalus (1192463)
        Okay, I'm curious. What exactly did happen, and why do you declare it to be different from a mental flashback of a disturbing video? Not trying to troll here, I really would like to understand the innate severity of the situation.
      • Better solution: Don't get conned into joining the army. Don't support/turn a blind eye to psychopathic leaders who like to invent wars or who pressure populations into war frenzies. A little awareness on everybody's part would go a long way.

        Instead, we're playing Tetris and a host of other video games which eases the immediate stress and suffering which in turn makes it easier for the psychopaths to ratchet up the pressure, requiring even more numbing distractions.

        But of course, even if these problems w

        • ... the long-term process of repairing and strengthening the mind is the real way to go, I would think.

          The process isn't nearly as long-term as it used to be.

          Practitioners of Energy Psychology have been trying to get someone in the DOD to listen to them for the last 15 years. Earlier this year two psychologists visited congress [energypsyched.com] with a soldier they cured of PTSD. All hope seemed lost, but then lady luck appeared and made some connections for them.

          They say that Walter Reed is now doing a formal study of the Emotional Freedom Technique [eftuniverse.com] on soldiers with PTSD.

          Truth-out recently featured a nice article calling on

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            You're quite right about avoiding PTSD by not signing up, but Energy Psychology is the best way to fix the people who come home broken.

            It's illegal for the same reason that using MDMA for therapy is illegal, it works. Therefore you can't spend years pumping chemicals into the patient at a profit.

            • Jeezuz. MDMA?

              I'd avoid any drug smuggled into the youth scene by the Israeli intelligence community.

              When I dug into the subject, the nearest thing I found to the same effects on brain cells that MDMA has was Polio's effect on nerve endings throughout the body. I think we're going to start seeing some really messed up people incapable of producing serotonin when they hit their 50's. I can't begin to imagine how crappy that would be!

              -FL

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Using MDMA habitually is a big fail, it does permanent brain damage and anyone who says different is selling something... to themselves. Using MDMA in a therapeutic setting has been shown to be amazingly effective (LSD, too, but that's almost as much of a keyword as Hitler) which is probably why it's among the most illegal of drugs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)

      Wouldn't learning to cope with it be the better alternative, as opposed to using the brain's magical hardware to numb it away?

      I think that resolving the trauma is the best approach, which is different than merely coping. It's also the most difficult.

  • It stands to reason that if "Tetris competes with the images of trauma in the perceptual information channel" then Tetris would also compete with the images of pron in the perceptual information channel.

    Note to self; stop playing Tetris whilst viewing Intertube pr0ns.

    • After watching "Linda Lovelace Meets Rin-Tin-Tin" in the '70s, I have been unable to play Tetris!
    • This brings up an interesting question.

      I'm sure Everyone here has seen those Tetris Porn games, where theres a nude person behind a bunch of blocks and the idea is to play tetris to lower the blocks to see the photo in the background.

      I can't seem to remember specifically what any of the photos were like. Coincidence? Anyone else's experience the same?

      (in b4 u lol)

    • Well, thank you for a mental image of 'arranging blocks' that I'll never get out of my head. Don't play Tetris, you'll go blind.

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:08PM (#34211444)

    This is a very interesting idea. I gather that the next question to ask is what aspects of tetris and popquiz produce the effects they do?
    I'm guessing that it has to do with tetris having no real life context (you're pushing around sets of coloured squares, which would not really apply to anyone except maybe traumatized bricklayers), while popquiz requires you to actively think about and recall real life events and concepts.

    Which would suggest that other games (video or otherwise) that don't mimic real life concepts would provide a similar effect.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I gather that the next question to ask is what aspects of tetris and popquiz produce the effects they do?

      Jesus, did you not read even the fucking summary? You know, all those word things underneath the headline?

      Here, since you missed them, then answer the exact question you asked:

      recognizing the shapes and moving the colored building blocks around in Tetris competes with the images of trauma in the perceptual information channel. Consequently, the images of trauma (the flashbacks) are reduced. The team believe that this is not a simple case of distracting the mind with a computer game, as answering general kn

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anne_Nonymous (313852)

        Could you summarize the headline for me? All I got was something about Tetris.

      • Ok, I'll bite. Yes, I did read the summary, which clearly explains that they're making an *educated guess* as to the mechanisms involved. What I was asking was what ACTUALLY caused the effect?

        Is it the the fact that tetris has no real life representation that people can associate with?

        Is it the fact that you are repeatedly performing a large number of simple actions? If so, is it because of the actions that focus your attention, or does the player enter a trance-like state?

        Maybe it's because the coloured

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          It's not because of the topic but because of the thought process involved, Tetris does not involve the memory at all while pop quiz does so heavily. Tetris occupies the brain with tasks that don't involve the memory so it has fewer resources dedicated to burning the traumatic images into your memory.

    • I'm no neurologist, but if I were to guess I'd say it's because flashbacks are primarily visual, with a bit of audio thrown in. Playing tetris occupies the visual, and to a lesser extent audio portions of the brain, preventing those pathways being used to lay down the upsetting memories over and over again. The quiz game however, uses the critical thinking parts of the brain and verbal memory retrieval (very few people remember the answers to quiz game type questions audio-visually). This leaves the audi

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Trauma victims should surf around 4chan for a few months. That would pretty much cure them from any mental trauma that they have encountered.
    • And then what, goatse to cure them from 4chan? And then in winter the goats just freeze to death!

    • Isn't that kind of like distracting you from your headache by crushing your foot with a sledgehammer?

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:19PM (#34211538) Homepage Journal

    Many people may not realize that many vets drink alcohol to get longer periods of REM sleep, so playing Pub Quiz may not be good for you, but if it also involves drinking alcohol, the negative effects (flashbacks) may be outweighed by the positive effects (more sleep).

    The best solution, of course, is to play the version of Tetris in Monty Python's computer game based on King Arthur, where you fill a pit with decomposing plague-ridden corpses.

    This is both funny and will usually lead to the consumption of alcohol.

    Mind you, creatine is cheaper than alcohol and has fewer side effects and gives you longer sleep periods, so maybe playing Tetris while having creatine may be the optimal solution.

    Even if it won't be half as fun.

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:58PM (#34211800)
    Pub Quiz is cause for PTSD. There are good games, bad games, and the games that keep you up at night shivering in terror and endless questions of why, why WHY didn't I answer d? I knew that question, I knew it. It should have been obvious. The horror, THE HORROR. If only I hadn't picked c. I was just careless. It shouldn't have mattered. But it all came down to that one question. Why dear god why!?
  • I think this guy [penny-arcade.com] would disagree about Tetris reducing PTSD.

  • Common knowledge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Friday November 12, 2010 @06:41PM (#34212068)
    Keeping soldiers busy has been practiced forever in most if not all military forces. There are several very good reasons to do that, and one of them is to prevent soldiers from dwelling on the horrors of war.
  • by Plekto (1018050) on Friday November 12, 2010 @06:48PM (#34212112)

    If it's just shapes and stimulus and so on, perhaps having them just sit in a room with videos of Tiesto or Daft Punk or similar playing would probably saturate their brains to the point of remembering nothing at all.

    On a side note, I still remember going to see the Blue Man Group three months ago more vividly than my ex's face. So I know it really can work. ;)

    • by muphin (842524)
      Just wait till war is declared on the Smurfs in Tetris Land
      • by Plekto (1018050)

        Yeah, no love for Smurfs here... ;)

        But I think that I might be onto something as well(on a serious note). If you take a look at people who have been to all-night dance/trance type concerts or raves, they look and act like they're in a daze after-wards. I know from personal experience myself, that your senses are driven to overload for so long that while you can remember what happened the day before, it seems like a fact with no emotion attached to it, since what you just went through completely saturated

  • I would guess any activity in which people zone out - such as playing Bejeweled, or cooking or driving a car - would reduce the PTSD

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