Cognitive Load in Mastoidectomy Skills Training: Virtual Reality Simulation and Traditional Dissection Compared

56 Citationer (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The cognitive load (CL) theoretical framework suggests that working memory is limited, which has implications for learning and skills acquisition. Complex learning situations such as surgical skills training can potentially induce a cognitive overload, inhibiting learning. This study aims to compare CL in traditional cadaveric dissection training and virtual reality (VR) simulation training of mastoidectomy.

DESIGN: A prospective, crossover study. Participants performed cadaveric dissection before VR simulation of the procedure or vice versa. CL was estimated by secondary-task reaction time testing at baseline and during the procedure in both training modalities.

SETTING: The national Danish temporal bone course.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 40 novice otorhinolaryngology residents.

RESULTS: Reaction time was increased by 20% in VR simulation training and 55% in cadaveric dissection training of mastoidectomy compared with baseline measurements. Traditional dissection training increased CL significantly more than VR simulation training (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: VR simulation training imposed a lower CL than traditional cadaveric dissection training of mastoidectomy. Learning complex surgical skills can be a challenge for the novice and mastoidectomy skills training could potentially be optimized by employing VR simulation training first because of the lower CL. Traditional dissection training could then be used to supplement skills training after basic competencies have been acquired in the VR simulation.

TidsskriftJournal of Surgical Education
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)45-50
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 21 okt. 2015


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