Description: What is trauma, do you have a working definition? It is a possible consequence of having experienced a traumatic event which could be almost anything from a car crash to being in a military conflict zone. It can lead to symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). So, yes, I bet you have a working definition of trauma. What about treatments for trauma, what do you know of those? Less, I would bet. Therapy? Companion animals or therapy dogs? How about Tetris? Yes Tetris, that old video game in which you work to stack different shaped blocks effectively and efficiently into solid rows. What could playing Tetris have to do with treating traumatic memories? Might hypnosis help? What about EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which involves recalling traumatic events while moving your eyes from side to side. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? Focus on Tetris and see if you can come up with the theory as to why it might help deal with traumatic memories and then read the article linked below to see for all of this approach might, or might not tie together.
Source: How Playing Tetris Tames the Trauma of a Car Crash, Bret Stteka, NPR, Health News.
Date: October 17, 2021
The key is memory consolidation or reconsolidation of recalled memories. The force of traumatic memories is grounded in our sensory experience and so, maybe, loading up the sensory system while re-living, thorough recall, a previous, traumatic, sensory experience might mess with the re-consolidation of those memories and reduce or eliminate trimitic memories. Sound like magic? Maybe, but the data is rather compelling, and it is the data that will help us sort out magic from viable clinical tools. As well, if you look though some of the article in the Further Reading section you will be surprised and the reach and usage of Tetris, clinically in this area!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is EMDR?
- Can hypnosis help in the treatment of trauma, if not why not?
- How might things like Tetris help in the treatment of trauma?
References (Read Further):
Iyadurai, L., Blackwell, S. E., Meiser-Stedman, R., Watson, P. C., Bonsall, M. B., Geddes, J. R., … & Holmes, E. A. (2018). Preventing intrusive memories after trauma via a brief intervention involving Tetris computer game play in the emergency department: a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial. Molecular psychiatry, 23(3), 674-682. Link
What is EMDR? Link
Sessa, B. (2011). Could MDMA be useful in the treatment of post‐traumatic stress disorder?. Link
Sessa, B., & Nutt, D. (2015). Making a medicine out of MDMA. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(1), 4-6. Link
Shapiro, E. (2009). EMDR treatment of recent trauma. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 3(3), 141-151. Link
Shapiro, E. (2012). EMDR and early psychological intervention following trauma. European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 241-251. Link
Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Coode-Bate, T., & Deeprose, C. (2009). Can playing the computer game “Tetris” reduce the build-up of flashbacks for trauma? A proposal from cognitive science. PloS one, 4(1), e4153. Link
Holmes, E. A., James, E. L., Kilford, E. J., & Deeprose, C. (2010). Key steps in developing a cognitive vaccine against traumatic flashbacks: Visuospatial Tetris versus verbal Pub Quiz. PloS one, 5(11), e13706. Link
Butler, O., Herr, K., Willmund, G., Gallinat, J., Kühn, S., & Zimmermann, P. (2020). Trauma, treatment and Tetris: video gaming increases hippocampal volume in male patients with combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 45(4), 279. Link
Brühl, A., Heinrichs, N., Bernstein, E. E., & McNally, R. J. (2019). Preventive efforts in the aftermath of analogue trauma: The effects of Tetris and exercise on intrusive images. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 64, 31-35. Link