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Puzzle Games (Games) United Kingdom Games Science

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

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 on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:43PM (#34211214)

    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.

  • Re:Tetris (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @05:46PM (#34211242) Homepage Journal
    Productivity? PTSD is productive?
  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @06:08PM (#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:Unusual. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @06:09PM (#34211448) Journal

    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 simple inexpensive trick.

  • Re:Unusual. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Friday November 12, 2010 @07:18PM (#34211924)

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @06:58AM (#34214734)

    Nigger, because plantation owners can't pronounce negro. Probably due to hair lip's and other deformations resulting from inbreeding.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser