Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Human Factors Psychology

Advisor

Dr. Christopher Pagano

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Burg

Committee Member

Dr. Benjamin Stephens

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Pak

Abstract

In minimally invasive surgery (MIS), surgeons face several perceptual challenges due to the remote interaction with the environment, such as distorted haptic feedback through the instruments due to friction produced from the rubber trocar sealing mechanisms at the incision site. As a result, surgeons sometimes unintentionally damage healthy tissues during MIS due to excessive force. Research has demonstrated that useful information is available in the haptic array regarding soft tissues, which allows novices to successfully perceive the penetration distance remaining until a material will fail based on displacement and reactionary forces of simulated tissues using a haptic invariant, Distance-to-Break (DTB). Attunement and calibration training was used in the current study to investigate whether observers are able to identify material break points in nonlinear compliant materials through haptic force application, while ignoring haptic stimulation not lawfully related to the properties specifying DTB, including friction. A pretest, feedback, posttest, and transfer-of-training phase design allowed participants to probe four virtually simulated materials at varying levels of friction: no friction, low friction, and high friction in the first experiment, and pull the simulated tissues in the second experiment to investigate if perception of DTB generalizes to other tasks used in MIS. Experiment 1 revealed that sensitivity to DTB can be improved through training, even in the presence of friction, and that friction may assist observers to perceive fragile tissues that otherwise would be below perceptual threshold. Experiment 2 revealed that attunement and calibration to DTB also transfers to pulling motions.

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