Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Mark W. Scerbo

Committee Member

Yusuke Yamani

Committee Member

James P. Bliss


The goal of the present study was to examine how interruptions during a laparoscopic skills training task affected task performance. Undergraduate students completed a task that required them to pick up and transfer colored objects in a specific, predetermined sequence. The number of colored objects in the sequence was varied to produce three levels of task demand. During execution of the primary task, participants were interrupted by auditory task-irrelevant communication. The temporal length of interruptions was also manipulated to produce three levels of interruption duration. Results showed that participants made significantly more sequence errors in the high demand condition than in the moderate demand condition. Unexpectedly, a large majority of participants were distracted instead of interrupted by the auditory communication. It was found that distractions did not significantly impair task performance. The general implication of the findings was that the peg transfer task from the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery is attentionally demanding, particularly when the complexity of the task is increased. However, a non-interruptive auditory dialogue (e.g., communication with trainers or team members) may be time-shared with laparoscopic skills training for novices with minimal impact on performance.


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