As it turns out, it seems that certain videogames can be beneficial against traumatic memories and thus perhaps have some practical use. It’s not the first study on the matter, as the perks or drawbacks of computer games have been viciously debated for the past two-decades, and the results have differed.
On one side, most videogames have been claimed to be harmful and induce violent behavior while others observed that they can improve coordination, reflexes and imagination. A new study conducted by researchers in Sweden and the United Kingdom have also shown that the visual-spatial game of Tetris can even help battle against traumas that possibly lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In order to test the impact of the computer game on painful memories or disturbing flashbacks, they have gathered a group of participants and showed them a 12-minute long footage of distressing footage, such as deadly car accidents and drowning. The next day, the same volunteers were given still shots of similar incidents to refresh their memories.
Those who played Tetris in the next 24 hours have reported recalling fewer details and experiencing less flashbacks of the traumatic footage. The videogame had successfully cleared their mind, in part, of the disturbing images by refocusing their visual memory on gameplay, allowing the brain to offer less attention to memories.
The computer game created a so-called ‘cognitive blockade’ and reduced the precision in which participants recalled traumatic images.
Researchers explain their use of Tetris as a memory-clearing agent by its visual qualities that require quick decisions and the simple purpose of aligning colorful blocks in order to succeed at the game.
However, both the researchers and mental health professionals alike have made mentions that traumas viewed on a television screen are severely different from first-hand experiences. Specialized psychologist, Jaine Darwin, who focuses on crisis interventions emphasized the point that there is more to trauma than just visual memories. Both tactile and olfactory senses are involved in the creation of traumatic recollections. That is why we are able to sometimes detect specific scents that unconsciously remind us of our childhood, or ‘childhood smells’.
The study will need more research before it’s deemed applicable to patients who have experienced real life traumatic incidents throughout their life. However, the study was not considered uninteresting by experts and could clearly show potential for future psychological treatments.
Psychologists are working on methods of extracting people from their tragic memories, basically changing the narrative directive when they talk about what happened, as if it was something they looked at as an observer, not experienced themselves.
Thus, those crucial factors such as scent or feel that were overlooked by the study will be eliminated from the trauma. It may pave a way for the famous, simple and very easy to access game to help further research and recovery for patients suffering from PTSD.
Image source: mirror.co.uk