Researches at the Oxford University in England have discovered that the effects of traumatic stress can be dampened by something as simple as playing a bit of Tetris.
40 healthy volunteers were exposed to a film containing a series of traumatic graphic images of injuries. Half of the subjects were given the game Tetris to play after the film, while the remaining 20 were simply sent on their merry, traumatized ways. The team then recorded data on flashbacks over the course of the following week, and found that the participants who did not play Tetris experienced a normal number of violent flashbacks, while those that did were terrorized by nightmares of being sodomized by L-shaped blocks.
No! Those that played the game experienced less flashbacks than those that did, conclusively proving...well, nothing really, but boy do those researchers have fun.
While nothing was conclusively proven, Dr. Emily Holmes suggests that what they learned during the experiment might help provide a way to help dampen flashback activity in victims of post traumatic stress disorder.
"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. Tetris may work by competing for the brain's resources for sensory information. We suggest 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."
Anyone who has ever had a Tetris nightmare can tell you that those damn blocks do a number on your brain after awhile, so the results make perfect sense to me. You cannot keep images of a severed leg and the theme song from Tetris in the same brain.
Mind you, Professor David "Spoilsport" Alexander of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research maintains that since the test subjects knew they were in no real danger and were prepared for something to happen, there was no true catastrophic event to cause the stress that the experiment was meant to test.
"The volunteers here knew that something was going to happen, but they were not going to be harmed - a genuinely traumatic incident is different in scale, and is usually completely unexpected and marked by feelings of loss of control."
There's only one thing left for the Oxford scientists to do. Kidnap people off the street, saw off their legs, and hand them a Gameboy.
Tetris 'helps to reduce trauma' [BBC - Thanks Jonathan!]