There is considerable interest in the identification and assessment of underlying aptitudes or innate abilities that could potentially predict excellence in the technical aspects of operating. However, before the assessment of innate abilities is introduced for high-stakes assessment (such as competitive selection into surgical training programs), it is essential to determine that these abilities are stable and unchanging and are not influenced by other factors, such as the use of video games. The aim of this study was to investigate whether experience playing video games will predict psychomotor performance on a laparoscopic simulator or scores on tests of visuospatial and perceptual abilities, and to examine the correlation, if any, between these innate abilities. Institutional ethical approval was obtained. Thirty-eight undergraduate medical students with no previous surgical experience were recruited. All participants completed a self-reported questionnaire that asked them to detail their video game experience. They then underwent assessment of their psychomotor, visuospatial, and perceptual abilities using previously validated tests. The results were analyzed using independent samples t tests to compare means and linear regression curves for subsequent analysis. Students who played video games for at least 7 hours per week demonstrated significantly better psychomotor skills than students who did not play video games regularly. However, there was no difference on measures of visuospatial and perceptual abilities. There was no correlation between psychomotor tests and visuospatial or perceptual tests. Regular video gaming correlates positively with psychomotor ability, but it does not seem to influence visuospatial or perceptual ability. This study suggests that video game experience might be beneficial to a future career in surgery. It also suggests that relevant surgical skills may be gained usefully outside the operating room in activities that are not related to surgery.
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland ->