If you have a penchant for vintage video games, your taste could work to your advantage. Researchers have found a new benefit of playing Tetris, a game that came out in 1984 and was already considered "old" by the mid-90s (at least, it was old to my brother and I).
For the very few people out there who may have never played Tetris, it's a simple video game in which a user needs to stack different shapes of brightly colored blocks to create a solid block. Once a line is completely filled in it disappears. If you're good enough, you could technically play forever because making sure the blocks don't reach the top of the screen is your only goal.
It's because the game is so simple that it works well as a therapy, researchers say. A new study has found that playing Tetris can help ease symptoms of PTSD.
The researchers administered Tetris therapy to people who were in the hospital for shock following traffic accidents. They were asked to imagine the crash and then to start playing Tetris on a Nintendo. Playing the game for 20 minutes seemed to stop the patients from forming vivid memories of the accident.
"Our findings suggest that if you engage in very visually demanding tasks soon after a trauma, this can help block or disrupt the memory being stored in an overly vivid way," Emily Holmes, lead author on the study, told BBC.
According to Holmes, there's only about a 6-hour window during which playing Tetris, or doing some other visually demanding activity, will keep traumatic memories from forming. She and the other researchers on her team call for more, larger studies into this phenomenon before it's implemented in hospitals.