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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