How Tetris therapy could help patients

How Tetris therapy could help patients

- in Health
How Tetris therapy could help patients
The Gaza Post | The News of Palestine – Sweden

Tetris is a relatively basic yet compelling video game. The aim is to line up falling blocks so they fit together in horizontal rows. When a perfect line with no gaps is made, it will vanish, making room for more play and point-scoring.

Scientists say it’s Tetris’s immersive simplicity that makes it a potentially powerful therapeutic tool.

Prof Emily Holmes, an expert in psychology at the University of Karolinska, has spent many years exploring the game’s medical merits.

“We wanted to have a task that really tapped into visual memory. With Tetris, it’s the colours, shapes and movements that are very absorbing.

“Other games in the lab, like pub quiz games or counting tasks, didn’t work. So we think it needs to be visual.”

Such is its pull, some people say that after playing the game they see falling blocks in their thoughts and dreams – a phenomenon dubbed the Tetris effect.

Here’s how it might help people.

Prof Holmes has just published a study that shows Tetris therapy may lessen the psychological impact of traumatic events. Prof Holmes explains: “Our findings suggest that if you engage in very visually demanding tasks soon after a trauma, this can help block or disrupt the memory being stored in an overly vivid way.”

In addition, scientists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology, Australia, say playing Tetris can help people curb cravings for things like coffee, cigarettes and alcohol.

Researcher Prof Jackie Andrade explained: “We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity. Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”

Also, a small study some years ago found an adapted version of Tetris helped treat a condition known as lazy eye or amblyopia.

The video game trains both eyes to work together, which is counter to previous treatments for the disorder.

Conventionally, doctors recommend covering the “good” eye with a patch to make the “lazy” one work harder.

Source: BBC News

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