Cancer diagnosis frequently relies on the interpretation of medical images such as chest X-rays and mammography. This process is error prone; misdiagnoses can reach a rate of 15% or higher. Of particular interest are false negatives—tumors that are present but missed. Previous research has identified several perceptual and attentional problems underlying inaccurate perception of these images. But how might these problems be reduced? The psychological literature has shown that presenting multiple, duplicate images can improve performance. Here we explored whether redundant image presentation can improve target detection in simulated X-ray images, by presenting four identical or similar images concurrently. Displays with redundant images, including duplicates of the same image, showed reduced false-negative rates, compared with displays with a single image. This effect held both when the target’s prevalence rate was high and when it was low. Eye tracking showed that fixating on two or more images in the redundant condition speeded target detection and prolonged search, and that the latter effect was the key to reducing false negatives. The redundancy gain may result from both perceptual enhancement and an increase in the search quitting threshold.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported in part by a seed grant from OFAA–Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota. We thank Y. N. Toh for help with data collection.
- Eye movements
- Selective attention
- Visual attention
- Visual search
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article