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Tetris May Help Ease PTSD

by on August 1, 2015

Tetris is good for more than a way to pass the time. A new study from Oxford University suggests that playing the classic puzzle game can help in lowering the frequency bad flashbacks and memories.

The way the brain works is fascinating. Whenever something memorable happens, such as seeing someone die in a war, there are about six hours where the brain will put the memory in long-term storage. Sleeping is part of this process, with current studies saying that memory cognition is part of sleep’s functions.

The Tetris study comes from the same scientists who said in 2009 that playing Tetris within four hours of a trauma exposure will help reduce flashback frequency. This could open a new path for drug-free treatment of PTSD and possible other disorders.


These puzzle blocks hold the key. But not a straight line when I need it.

The study involved showing the 52 subjects videos of car crashes and drownings. The following day they came back in and were shown still images of the gruesome videos before splitting the group in two.

The first group played Tetris while the other half just sat around. After a week, the Tetris players were shown to have less flashbacks, and scored much lower on a PTSD questionnaire. The report of the study, published July 1st in Psychological Science, proved that a video game is helpful in those that saw gruesome images.

So why Tetris? Would some other video game work? Well, not necessarily. Tetris is a very simple game, aesthetically. A game such as Super Mario Bros. or a newer game like The Last of Us would definitely not work; those games require more of the gamer, have a little more stress added to them, and of course a game with any sort of killing may not help as much as a simple puzzle game.


The old Tetris arcade game is going to get some new applications. And not just being on every piece of technology. Even calculators.

Tetris is very basic, with a simple color palette, but still using up a lot of our visual skills because it requires us to determine where each block will fit the best. Therefore the game uses the area needed to think of the traumatic events.

The memories are still there, there’s no way to get rid of them yet (like in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) but what it does mean is that the memories are less severe on the psyche. Newer puzzle games, like King’s popular Candy Crush games, and maybe even games like Angry Birds may do the same thing.

Do you think that Tetris and other puzzle games help with traumatic memories? Let us know if you have any stories where gaming helped ease your traumatic memories, and let us know what games are your favorites to help you on the way.

By: Cody Dunmire

Edited by: Emily Deaton

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  • BlackBible

    I love this article