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Videogame Treatment for PTSD?

Posted Oct 31 2012 1:47pm

A little fluff I chanced upon over at the Mind Hacks website, regarding the “psychology of Tetris.” It even includes a link to a Psychology Today article about the possibility of using video games such as Tetris to prevent flashbacks in people suffering with PTSD. Here’s the quote from Mind Hacks:

The writer Jeffrey Goldsmith was so obsessed with Tetris that he wrote a famous article asking if the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov had invented “a pharmatronic?” – a video game with the potency of an addictive drug. Some people say that after playing the game for hours they see falling blocks in their dreams or buildings move together in the street – a phenomenon known as the Tetris Effect. Such is its mental pull, there’s even been the suggestion that the game might be able to prevent flashbacks in people with PTSD.

The theory, as noted in the Psychology Today article, is that an “intensive mental task” might actually be able to “compete successfully” with the development of flashbacks. From that article, which you might find interesting:

In their experiment, volunteers were shown a brief video with traumatic scenes of violence and death, and half of them were then assigned to play Tetris for 10 minutes, the other half (the controls) were told to sit quietly, doing nothing. At followup a week later, the Tetris players had fewer flashbacks and lower scores on measures of trauma impact. Holmes concluded, “strategic, selective interference with the consolidation of recently triggered visual memories occurs via the demand on the player’s limited visuospatial working memory resources.”

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