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Mind control can make you a better surgeon

18 August 2009 Goldsmiths, University of London

A team of researchers have found that trainee eye surgeons can significantly improve their surgical skills by regulating their own brainwave activity, using a process called neurofeedback.

Published in BMC Neuroscience 2009 this month, the study, led by Tomas Ros and Professor John Gruzelier, both from Goldsmiths, University of London, specifically looked at the effects of self-regulating brainwaves on National Health Service trainee ophthalmic microsurgeons.

Neurofeedback is a kind of ‘brain training’ which involves brain activity being monitored by sensors, so that individuals can see the activity on a screen. The individual being monitored can then see their brain activity in real time – and can then try to affect the activity themselves (self-regulating). The idea is that the individual can then ‘train’ their brain to perform a specific task more efficiently.

The study found that neurofeedback training provided significant improvement in surgical technique in the trainee eye surgeons whilst also considerably reducing the time they spend performing the surgery as well.

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