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Video game vets make better surgeons

Laparoscopy skills linked to gameplay experience

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A study into laparoscopy surgeons has shown a "strong correlation" between video game skills and the sawbones' ability to perform delicate, TV guided keyhole surgery.

The results, published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery, showed that "video game skills translated into higher scores on a day-and-half-long surgical skills test", Reuters reports. Of the 33 surgeons from Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York, the nine "who had at some point played video games at least three hours per week" boasted "37 per cent fewer errors, performed 27 per cent faster, and scored 42 per cent better in the test".

The upshot is, the report concludes, that "video games can improve fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, depth perception, and computer competency". Iowa State University psychology prof Douglas Gentile, who co-wrote the study, said: "It was surprising that past commercial video game play was such a strong predictor of advanced surgical skills."

But while Dr James Rosser of Beth Israel conceded video games "may be a practical teaching tool to help train surgeons", Gentile warned: "Parents should not see this study as beneficial if their child is playing video games for over an hour a day."

He concluded: "Spending that much time playing video games is not going to help their child's chances of getting into medical school." ®

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