+

Video games. A time-honored way to put off homework, spend time with friends, and rewire our brains.

While immensely popular, modern video gaming is often spotlighted for negative reasons — namely, for being too violent. But here's some good, if not obvious, news: #NotAllVideoGames are bad for us.


Photo by Joel Stubston/Wikimedia Commons.

In 2009, Oxford University researchers found a possible application of certain video games for trauma survivors.

They obviously weren't studying modern-day shoot-em-ups like "Grand Theft Auto." They went back to the basics with one of the oldies: Tetris.

Forget GTA. This was the work of the devil. GIF via Reddit.

Participants in the study first watched video re-enactments of traumatic events, like people getting hit by cars or drowning in the ocean. In the immediate hours that followed, when memories are "consolidated" for long-term storage, they were assigned one of three tasks: Tetris, trivia, or no task in particular.

Tetris was found to significantly reduce the frequency of flashbacks if played within four hours of a traumatic event.

Flashbacks, or the re-experiencing of traumatic memories, are a key symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, a problem 7-8% of the U.S. population will face in their lifetimes.

Dude, you paid for that? You can play for free right here. Photo by Choi/Flickr (altered).

The researchers attributed the decreased recurrence of flashbacks to the type of brain work required for Tetris. Maneuvering and piecing together Tetris blocks somehow blocks the cognitive pathway for flashbacks.

Go Tetris, right? Well, further research uncovered even more benefits of the classic game for dealing with trauma.

A follow-up study showed participants videos of traumatic events, then reminded them of those events with still images a day later. One group was then asked to play Tetris, and the other was asked to do nothing at all.

Would much rather be playing Tetris. GIF from "Community."

The outcome was remarkable, wrote the researchers: "We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following a memory-reactivation task 24 hr after initial exposure to experimental trauma."

There's a lot of hope surrounding these findings, and a perusal of the day's headlines are often a clue as to why.

Countless soldiers, refugees, victims of sexual assault, and survivors of mass shootings and accidents are burdened by memories of trauma every day.

We have treatments to help people manage PTSD, but this could eventually lead us toward concrete strategies for stopping itbefore it takes hold.

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for PTSD. Photo by Michiel1972/Wikimedia Commons.

What's better? It's a drug-free and relatively low-tech way to help people get on with their lives. Plus, anyone can play Tetris for free on the Internet.

It may seem silly that we're talking about a video game as a preventive therapy, but Emily Holmes, one of the lead researchers behind these studies, has an answer for that.

“Think of it like hand washing," she told New Scientist. "Hand washing is not a fancy intervention, but it can reduce all sorts of illness. This is similar — if the experimental result translates, it could be a cheap preventative measure informed by science."

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

It's a cat toy, people. Deal with it.

Kids have relentless curiosity and imagination galore. That magical quality often catches adults off guard in the most hilarious of ways.

Tennis pro Serena Williams recently posted a video to her TikTok showing her 5-year-old daughter Olympia (who is the spitting image of her mother, by the way) playing with a “toy” for their cat Karma.

By “toy,” I mean a tampon.


Keep ReadingShow less

She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

Keep ReadingShow less