How does a surgeon's brain buzz? An EEG coherence study on the interaction between humans and robot

Tommaso Bocci, Carlo Moretto, Silvia Tognazzi, Lucia Briscese, Megi Naraci, Letizia Leocani, Franco Mosca, Mauro Ferrari, Ferdinando Sartucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In humans, both primary and non-primary motor areas are involved in the control of voluntary movements. However, the dynamics of functional coupling among different motor areas have not been fully clarified yet. There is to date no research looking to the functional dynamics in the brain of surgeons working in laparoscopy compared with those trained and working in robotic surgery.Experimental procedures: We enrolled 16 right-handed trained surgeons and assessed changes in intra- and inter-hemispheric EEG coherence with a 32-channels device during the same motor task with either a robotic or a laparoscopic approach. Estimates of auto and coherence spectra were calculated by a fast Fourier transform algorithm implemented on Matlab 5.3.Results: We found increase of coherence in surgeons performing laparoscopy, especially in theta and lower alpha activity, in all experimental conditions (M1 vs. SMA, S1 vs. SMA, S1 vs. pre-SMA and M1 vs. S1; p <0.001). Conversely, an increase in inter-hemispheric coherence in upper alpha and beta band was found in surgeons using the robotic procedure (right vs. left M1, right vs. left S1, right pre-SMA vs. left M1, left pre-SMA vs. right M1; p <0.001).Discussion: Our data provide a semi-quantitative evaluation of dynamics in functional coupling among different cortical areas in skilled surgeons performing laparoscopy or robotic surgery. These results suggest that motor and non-motor areas are differently activated and coordinated in surgeons performing the same task with different approaches. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that tried to assess semi-quantitative differences during the interaction between normal human brain and robotic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalBehavioral and Brain Functions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 22 2013


  • Da Vinci
  • EEG coherence
  • Interhemispheric coherence
  • Laparoscopy
  • M1
  • Mirror neurons
  • Pre-SMA
  • Robotic surgery
  • S1
  • SMA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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