Optimal training design for procedural motor skills: a review and application to laparoscopic surgery

Psychol Res. 2014 Nov;78(6):878-91. doi: 10.1007/s00426-013-0525-5. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


This literature review covers the choices to consider in training complex procedural, perceptual and motor skills. In particular, we focus on laparoscopic surgery. An overview is provided of important training factors modulating the acquisition, durability, transfer, and efficiency of trained skills. We summarize empirical studies and their theoretical background on the topic of training complex cognitive and motor skills that are pertinent to proficiency in laparoscopic surgery. The overview pertains to surgical simulation training for laparoscopy, but also to training in other demanding procedural and dexterous tasks, such as aviation, managing complex systems and sports. Evidence-based recommendations are provided for facilitating efficiency in laparoscopic motor skill training such as session spacing, adaptive training, task variability, part-task training, mental imagery and deliberate practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / education*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Transfer, Psychology*