Playing Tetris helps you overcome traumatic memories

Playing Tetris helps you overcome traumatic memories

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There is nothing more overwhelming than passing Tetris levels and fighting to control those pieces that rush towards the bottom of your screen like comets fallen from the sky.

But despite the stressful nature of this famous game, research indicates that playing Tetris helps to reduce negative emotional memories.Memories normally associated with traumatic and stressful experiences that affect us even today.

"This research is the first to show that a 'simple cognitive block' could reduce the intrusion of negative memories associated with trauma through memory reconsolidation processes", says Emily Holmes, lead author of the study.

"This is particularly interesting because intrusive memories are the main symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ".

The experiment

Obviously, victims of traumatic events would not find it very pleasant to play games hours after the incident, so Holmes and his team left more time to see if the traumatic memories could be interrupted 24 hours after experiencing the situation. traumatic.

In the experiment, volunteers were shown films with traumatic scenes as a way to "induce his intrusive memories."

24 hours later the volunteers returned and their memories of the traumatic film were reactivated through viewing a series of still images from the film.

Next, half of the group were asked to play Tetris, while the other half were simply asked to sit quietly.

The volunteers kept a diary for the next 7 days, where they had to talk about the memories of the traumatic content to which they had been exposed.


The results, published in the journal Psychological Science, show that lVolunteers who played Tetris experienced far fewer intrusive memories than those who hadn't been distracted by anything.

It is important to note that the "reactivation" of traumatic memories (in this case induced by seeing photos of the film) along with the subsequent play session seems to have been crucial to interrupt the intrusion of future negative memories.

The researchers point out that games like Tetris constitute a visuospatial task capable of creating a "cognitive block" that prevents the reconsolidation of intrusive visual memories. So in the future, the presence and impact of negative memories associated with trauma will disappear.

“Our findings suggest that although people may wish to forget traumatic memories, they can benefit from bringing them back to mind, at least under certain conditions that make them less harmful. "said co-author Ella James.


  • Computer Game Play Reduces Intrusive Memories of Experimental Trauma via Reconsolidation-Update Mechanisms
  • Intrusiveness of Old Emotional Memories Can Be Reduced by Computer Game Play Procedure

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Video: Complex Trauma: Understanding and Treatment - Diane Langberg (August 2022).