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03-31-2009, 04:44 AM #1
Playing "Tetris" can wipe out Bad Memories
People trying to drive out shocking flashbacks from the recent past should play Tetris, say experts who have found that the popular computer game can wipe out bad memories.
Researchers at Oxford University have found that playing Tetris, which involves moving coloured building blocks around, after a major shock can help in reducing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to them, because the brain is split into two — one section is sensory and the other is analytical — and as there are limits to people’s abilities to do two things at a time, the computer game is able to “interfere with the way our memories are retained in the brain”.
“We wanted to find a way to dampen down flashbacks — the raw sensory images of trauma that are over-represented in the memories of those with PTSD, lead researcher Emily Holmes said.
“Tetris works by competing for the brain’s resources for sensory information. 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,” Holmes said.
The Oxford University experiment works on the principle that it may be possible to modify the way in which the brain forms memories in the hours after an event. In their study, the researchers showed 40 volunteers traumatic images of injury from various sources, including adverts highlighting the dangers of drink driving.
After waiting for 30 minutes, 20 of the volunteers played Tetris for ten minutes while the rest did nothing. The researchers found that those who had played the computer game experienced significantly fewer flashbacks over the next week, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday. PTI