Teen gamers match ob/gyn residents on surgery simulator

  • Article by: TORIE BOSCH , Slate
  • Updated: December 26, 2012 - 2:56 PM

The applicability of video-game skills to modern warfare, especially in the use of drones, is well known. But a new study suggests that gamers might also have an edge in robotic surgery.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston asked ob/gyn residents and 10th-graders who regularly play video games to perform tasks such as suturing on a robotic-surgery simulator.

On average, the high school students performed just as well as the residents. A few of the teenagers even did better.

Sami Kilic, lead author of the study, said that the high school students who played virtual doctor were devotees of shooting games (especially the "Call of Duty" series), as well as games featuring sports, strategy and auto racing. Those who devoted their time to shooting games and sports games did best at the robotic-surgery simulation, perhaps, he speculated, because the unpredictability of the gameplay was similar to surgery.

The question, Kilic said, is whether spending two hours a day at a game, as these high schoolers did, might hinder other areas of development, especially social skills. He hopes to explore that issue soon with the help of behavioralists.

In the meantime, he said, "I'm not encouraging teenagers to spend countless hours in front of the computer games, because our job is not to create the best surgeon ever or the best soldier ever in this age group. They have to have the fundamental human being skills in their developing age."

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