Cognitive Neuroscience and Design of Surgical Education

  • David Bartle
  • Andrew Evans
Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 17)


The surgical educator who understands human cognition is better able to design and implement educational activities. The cognitive neurosciences propose theories and models of learning which aid in this understanding. Information Processing Theory emphasises active thought processing whereby information is grouped and processed between the learner’s working and long-term memory. As this information is synthesised, it develops into schema which can be more efficiently manipulated by the mind. Cognitive Load Theory draws on this theory and proposes that schema best develop when a learning activity is tailored to the audience. Mastery Learning contends that expertise occurs in stages and that it is best for a learner to master their current sphere of learning before progressing to the next. Optimal tuition recognises the learner’s current sphere of learning and accelerates the attainment of mastery.


Surgical education Information processing Cognitive load Mastery Learning Cognitive neuroscience Behaviourism Working memory Long-term memory Chunking Recency Primacy Schema 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bartle
    • 1
  • Andrew Evans
    • 2
  1. 1.Tauranga HospitalTaurangaNew Zealand
  2. 2.Townsville HospitalDouglasAustralia

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