"It may be that a verbal general knowledge game may be impairing people's ability to make sense, as it were, of the traumatic film information, which accordingly to clinical psychology models of trauma memory, would serve to worsen flashbacks," Holmes said.
Ultimately, the researchers said, their findings could be used to actually help patients with PTSD, but they emphasized that they need to develop their work further before it can be tested clinically.
"What I'm really interested in as an experimental scientist is understanding human memory and how we could help modulate it in a positive way. And I think what's most exciting at the moment is we're trying to understand this rare kind of, as it were, pop-out memory – memories that come into mind when you don't want them to by studying films," Holmes said. "Eventually, with enough research, yes, it's exactly the kind of basic science that should lead to clinical translation but we're not there yet."