Transferability of motor skills from piano training to learning new laparoscopic surgical skills


  • Gilles Comeau University of Ottawa
  • Valeria Dimitrova
  • Mikael Swirp
  • Donald Russell
  • Fady Balaa
  • Kuan-chin Jean Chen



skill transfer, fine motor skill, visuospatial ability, dexterity, laparoscopic surgery


There is a widely held belief that musicians make better surgeons based on the far transfer of their established fine motor skills when learning new surgical skills. There is, however, a deficit of quantified knowledge on the transfer of fine motor skills from one domain of expertise to another. In this study, pianists and controls were provided with daily laparoscopic training sessions for five consecutive days. Each session consisted of six tasks on a Train Anywhere Skill Kit laparoscopic training box. Performance was evaluated each day and retention was evaluated one week later by measuring the speed and accuracy of task completion. Except for the bead to peg transfer task, no statistical differences were found between participant groups. The only significant confounding variable was that the control group was more interested in surgery than the musician group (p = .037). This research addressed limitations of previous studies by measuring the long-term performance and retention of laparoscopic surgical skills. The results of this study demonstrate that, contrary to expectations, piano performance training did not far transfer to laparoscopic surgery. Our findings indicate that fine motor skills are domain specific to music and surgery, respectively.





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