Can tDCS Make Surgeons Better?

Several leading medical centers have been testing transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to see if it can make surgeons better. The studies focus on the manual training surgeons must go through to get “good hands” and show training with tDCS makes for better motor skill learning, which is important for training better surgeons.

A group from University of Florida, Gainesville and Imperial College London show that Prefrontal transcranial direct-current stimulation improves early technical skills in surgery. The study demonstrates significantly improved early phase surgical-skill acquisition following prefrontal tDCS. 

In a separate study from the University of Calgary, tDCS during laparoscopic surgical training may enhance skill acquisition. This study also used the Soterix Medical tDCS device in with the M1-SO montage which targets the motor cortex.

It’s been known for decades that tDCS paired with motor skill training enhances skill acquisition of a wide range of tasks, often with large effects and long‐term skill retention. But enhancing surgical trainee skills seems a very special application, like enhancing sniper skill with tDCS.  It’s about taking people who are already obsessed with being the best, and making them better. tDCS is basically letting these elite performers (surgeons) get to a skill mastery level they couldn’t have achieved otherwise.

Learn more about tDCS increase elite performance in sport.

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