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#270402 - 01/08/09 10:10 PM New PTSD Research
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
While this research may not be helpful for "old" PTSD, it may have some bearing for "new" trauma.

Computer puzzle may ease post-traumatic stress
Thu Jan 8, 2009 1:03pm EST
1 of 1Full SizeLONDON (Reuters) - Playing Tetris, rated one of the greatest video games of all time, immediately after traumatic events appears to reduce flashbacks that plague sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a British study.

The preliminary findings could lead to new treatments to prevent or cut flashbacks that are a hallmark of the condition, also known as PTSD, Oxford University researchers said.

"This is only a first step in showing that this might be a viable approach to preventing post traumatic stress disorder," Emily Holmes, a psychologist who led the study, said.

"This was a pure science experiment about how the mind works from which we can try to understand the bigger picture," Holmes said in a statement.

PTSD can often stem from wartime trauma such as being wounded or seeing others hurt or killed.

Symptoms range from irritability and outbursts of anger to sleep difficulties, trouble concentrating, extreme vigilance and an exaggerated startle response. People also can persistently relive the traumatic event.

The Oxford team showed a film to 40 healthy volunteers that included traumatic images of injury from several sources, including advertisements on the dangers of drunk driving.


After waiting 30 minutes, half the people played Tetris for 10 minutes while the others did nothing. Those who played the game had far fewer flashbacks to the film over the next week.

The game involves manipulating shapes composed of square blocks that fall down the screen to create a horizontal line of blocks without gaps. When a line is created it disappears.

The researchers believe that recognizing the shapes and moving the coloucoloredred building blocks around in the computer game competes with the visions of trauma retained in the sensory part of the brain.

This process may somehow interfere with the way sensory memories are formed in the period following trauma and reduces the number of flashbacks experienced later on, they said this week in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS ONE.

"We know there is a period of up to six hours in which it is possible to affect certain types of memories that are laid down in the human mind," Catherine Deeprose, who worked on the study, added in a statement.

"We have shown that in healthy volunteers, playing Tetris in this time window can reduce flashback-type memories without wiping out the ability to make sense of the event."

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; editing by Maggie Fox)

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#270488 - 01/09/09 11:36 AM Re: New PTSD Research [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
alexey Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 08/16/05
Posts: 1677
Loc: Moscow, Russia

This is a very interesting article. The idea itself that playing Tetris has something to do with releaving post-traumatic stress is excting.

It immediately came to mind that I played Tetris a lot when I was a boy in school (and was a survivor by that time).

It is also an honor to realize that Tetris was invented by the Russian enginner Alexey Pazhitnov. Tetris is indeed revolutionary game of our time, and it helps survivors, wow!

Thank you,

When you feel all alone and unhappy, turn to you Inner Child and talk to Him.
You will see He can comfort you like nothing else!

#270489 - 01/09/09 11:57 AM Re: New PTSD Research [Re: alexey]
pluckmemory Offline

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 562
Yesterday the Pentagon announced that it would not be giving Purple Hearts from those suffering from PTSD, because it's not a physical wound. Give me a break !!! I see this as an ongoing stigma against psychiatric disorders.. They said that in combat the enemy intends to inflicts physical wounds, but not mental ones, or something to that effect.

#270522 - 01/09/09 05:17 PM Re: New PTSD Research [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
ineffable Offline

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 1371
Loc: state of holeecrapdood

The researchers believe that recognizing the shapes and moving the coloucoloredred building blocks around in the computer game competes with the visions of trauma retained in the sensory part of the brain.

This process may somehow interfere with the way sensory memories are formed in the period following trauma and reduces the number of flashbacks experienced later on, they said this week in the Public Library of Science Journal PLoS ONE.

The mechanisms/manipulation of memory & meaning?

What about simply having the ability to "flip" or "rotate" objects to "fit" into a unified "wholeness"
& their effects on perception & the meaning we attach to things or events.
The cognitive frustration we feel & intuitively know when we clearly see or feel that "things don't fit"?

I would also be curious if the test subjects were accomplished tetris players & what the results were for those
who weren't so accomplished.
As in, did the effect of being frustrated by the inability to "play the game" have any subsequent noticeable inhibiting effect?

Fascinating stuff & thanks for posting.

Edited by ineffable (01/09/09 05:21 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling & line breaks
:: "Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there" ::

#270575 - 01/10/09 01:09 AM Re: New PTSD Research [Re: ineffable]
king tut Offline

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2488
Loc: UK
These studies, i find, are always very obvious. The scientific world is very strict, it deals with facts. If you think it is a potato you have to get everybody to come together and agree that it is a potato. That is one of these things, i think.

They played tetris (almost) immediately after watching the videos. The idea is that memories affect the development of eachother (not an issue of competing), so that the traumatic imagery doesn't later appear as flashbacks- they are "processed" differently (it would be interesting to know more about the time period between the two events-their justifications- and the techniques available to expose memories so that this time limit is inconsequential). Tetris isn't the real tool here, it seems that it is the act of doing something that takes concentration, something that opens up those different channels in your mind. The processing of the traumatic imagery makes use of the channels created by this logical game. This prevents flashbacks- BUT lets at least be accurate about this and say it has prevented flashbacks SO FAR (temporal).

We know, by understanding the nature of traumatic memories, that these are things that are often thrown into the back of a mind and locked there by many other mechanisms. The question therefore is- Does the act of playing tetris really process the traumatic imagery or is it a mechanism of locking it away? maybe to never return, maybe to appear as flashbacks many years down the line, as happens for many survivors. The fact that the subjects were still able to make clear sense of the events may suggest that this is in fact a good tool in processing the memories.

Anyway, i didn't originally comment when i read this because the applicability of this "potato" research (yeah i've coined my own term now lol) is low, and results rather inconclusive- IMHO, but a good start.

So if a game like tetris can act like a mental tool to open channels within the mind (i don't pretend to know detail about the synaptic paths the mind builds, but i do know that they are dependent on things you do, if you are a linguist, for example, your brain will look alot different to a mathematicians), and if these channels within your mind can be used to process new traumatic imagery (therefore without the need for flashbacks- what i would like to call the path-of-least-confusion copyrighted by me) then since there are ways of digging up old memories, the same kind of tools could possibly be used to do the same with these dug-up memories.

I think we have to think more about the state of somebodies mind when in a traumatic situation, and how the mind stores things, this storage, according to this research, can be reorganised under time constraints, these time constraints however do seem permanent in my opinion, which is why i stated that i think the applicability of the research remains questionable at this point in time.


#273010 - 01/28/09 08:30 PM Re: New PTSD Research [Re: king tut]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
There is a program (ongoing at this moment) on National Pubic Radio (Talk of the Nation) on PTSD. They are having a call-in program. It is related to military PTSD, but much of what they are saying applies equally as well to "our" type of PTSD.

NPR will post this as a podcast available online. You can listen to it on your computer. It takes them a few hours to put this podcast up after the broadcast. I will post the link when it becomes available.

You guys with PTSD deserve the purple heart.

The current link is:


pufferfish whistle

Edited by pufferfish (01/28/09 08:34 PM)
Edit Reason: to add link


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