Researchers find a link between trauma and Tetris

Maybe now is finally the time for the Tetris-only operating system. Swedish researchers have evidence to show that Tetris prevents the psychological effects of trauma. In a study, the group that played 20 minutes of Tetris had 62 percent fewer intrusive memories in the first week after a car accident than the control group.

 Emily Holmes, a psychology professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and lead author of the study, has performed variations in which Tetris proves to be both effective and ineffective at preventing intrusive thoughts, giving her more insight into what exactly is happening in the brains of traumatized Tetris players.

Holmes feels that playing Tetris shortly after an accident can interfere with memory consolidation, or the gradual conversion of short-term memories into more permanent ones. Evidence suggests that there is a window following a trauma in which a bad memory can be disrupted or avoided — and in which memories can be uncoupled from the brain's emotional centers.

She admits that the findings are probably not unique to Tetris. Traumatic memories are often highly sensory: Sights and sounds of a trauma can flash back in horrifying detail. Holmes believes that any highly visual activity that stimulates the brain's sensory centers might prevent graphic recollections from forming in the first place.