Electric zaps improve robot surgery skills | Inquirer Technology

Zapping doctors enhances their robot surgery skills: study

08:00 AM December 22, 2023

Johns Hopkins University researchers discovered that zapping doctors in the head improves their robot surgery skills. They received gentle electrical stimulation as they trained using a virtual reality program. As a result, they exhibited superior proficiency over those who did not receive constant stimulation.

Education adapts to technology as it advances, shifting how we absorb information and learn new skills. Some of its methods may seem strange, such as zapping healthcare professionals to improve their robot surgery skills. However, they may bring a new generation of great thinkers that could elevate our civilization to the next level.

This article will discuss the study on improving robot surgery skills with electric stimulation. Later, I will share other ways technology is shifting education.

How do zaps improve robot surgery skills?

Roboticist Jeremy D. Brown and his Johns Hopkins research team explored how stimulating the cerebellum could facilitate learning skills. Interesting Engineering said it is the part of the brain that regulates mobility and balance.


It enables us to perform dexterous physical activities like riding a bicycle or chopping onions. Their hypothesis was stimulating the cerebellum could help us learn such things more effectively, especially in virtual reality. 

VR lets us learn skills too dangerous or tedious to replicate in real life, like rescuing people in a fire or operating on a patient. However, “Training in virtual reality is not the same as training in a real setting,” said Brown.

“We’ve shown with previous research that it can be difficult to transfer a skill learned in a simulation into the real world,” he added. They tested their hypothesis by letting volunteers practice guiding a surgical needle in a VR surgery game.

Players had small pads on specific parts of their heads that provided gentle stimulation. However, only half received it constantly; the rest only got it at the beginning of the game.


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Afterward, they tested their robot surgery skills with a bot called the da Vinci Research Kit. Those with steady brain zaps became proficient at using the robot in real life despite having no prior experience.


“The group that didn’t receive stimulation struggled a bit more to apply the skills they learned in virtual reality to the actual robot, especially the most complex moves involving quick motions,” said researcher Guido Caccianiga. “The groups that received brain stimulation were better at those tasks.”

“It’s very hard to claim statistical exactness, but we concluded people in the study were able to transfer skills from virtual reality to the real world much more easily when they had this stimulation,” added Brown.

How is tech changing education?

Another country from the other side of the world has been integrating tech into classrooms. China’s Jinhua Xiaoshun Primary School used AI four years ago to ensure student concentration.

These kids wore special headbands from the US-based company BrainCo to transmit data about how engaged they were during class. Also, the headgear assisted teachers in adjusting their instruction to meet students’ individual needs.

AIPlusInfo said Chinese schools installed cameras in classrooms to monitor students. Moreover, their AI features can analyze student behavior via facial recognition.

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Nowadays, ChatGPT has become an affordable and effective way of tutoring students. A survey from education consultation firm Intelligent showed these kids and their parents preferred the AI chatbot over humans.

Junior college student Johnson Adegoke said, “As a current student using ChatGPT, I have found it to be a helpful and convenient tool for studying. Unlike seeing a tutor, ChatGPT is available 24/7 and can answer my questions immediately.”

Surprisingly, Intelligent discovered that 96% of parents believed the AI tool is more effective than learning with a tutor. One of the respondents said, “My children prefer to use the software for oral practice, and the results are much better.”


A recent study discovered that gentle electric stimulation to the head could hone one’s robot surgery skills. As a result, it could improve virtual reality as a learning tool. 

This method may become more popular as VR, robotics, and artificial intelligence become more prevalent. However, it would likely need more research and development to verify its practical uses.

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Learn more about this brain stimulation learning study on its Scientific Reports website. Also, check out more digital tips and trends at Inquirer Tech.


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