January 7, 2009

Video game may reduce PTSD

British researchers say the video game Tetris may reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

A study by psychologists at Oxford University suggests the game can help erase bad memories and reduce flashbacks, the Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Emily Holmes of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, said volunteers exposed to traumatic images and then half of the group played Tetris for 10 minutes, while the other half did nothing. The volunteers who played the video game experienced significantly fewer flashbacks over the next week, the report said.

Holmes said the findings suggest the game helps block the brain from storing painful memories.

Tetris may work by competing for the brain's resources for sensory information, she said. We suggest it specifically interferes with the way sensory memories are laid down in the period after trauma and thus reduces the number of flashbacks that are experienced afterwards.