A week later, the Tetris players reported far fewer flashbacks over that previous week than their counterparts, and they scored much lower on PTSD questionnaires, according to the report, published July 1 in Psychological Science.
“We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following memory reactivation,” wrote the research team from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and the Karolinska Institutet.
While the results are similar to the group’s previous work, the findings are thought to be more applicable for developing PTSD therapies because they indicate that visual-spatial games like Tetris may be useful in disrupting intrusive memories long after the causative event.
The earlier research had subjects playing Tetris within four hours of a trauma — an impractical scenario for most of life’s traumatic events.
Both studies contribute to the understanding of memory imprinting and recall, with the latest research finding that a combination of memory recall and Tetris can help disrupt involuntary recall of intrusive memories.
But researchers cautioned that the combination is key to the improved scores and reduced flashbacks among the game players, adding that their research found that “playing Tetris alone … or memory reactivation alone was [in]sufficient to reduce intrusion.”