Visual perceptual learning in Cytopathology
Nova Science Publishers
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Cytopathology (cytology) involves the microscopic examination of cells for the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer. Little is known about how the perceptual abilities of cytologists develop, which is the focus of research described in this chapter. The acquisition of visual skills in cytology may involve two strategies. Analytical strategies require trainees to base diagnostic decisions on exhaustive feature lists, a process that is inefficient. Non-analytical pattern recognition strategies are rarely encouraged, even though this approach is characteristic of expert diagnostic behaviour. Experiment 1 evaluated the role of non-analytical learning (perceptual learning) in cytopathology as an efficient alternative to analytical training. Participants‘ diagnostic accuracy improved significantly following both training regimens (p < .001) but the degree of improvement was not statistically different between the two groups (p > .05). Speed of response to test images was generally faster under non-analytical than under analytical conditions. Experiment 2 replicated the results of experiment 1, confirming the effectiveness of perceptual learning in cytology, but went further by investigating image difficulty and diagnostic category as independent variables. Diagnostic accuracy improved for participants who were trained on normal/abnormal image pairs in which at least one member of the pair was easy to interpret (p < .05). Training was not effective when images pairs were of the same diagnostic category or when both members of the pair were difficult to interpret (p > .05). These studies make an important contribution to the development of perceptual learning modules in cytology.
Perham, N., Evered, A., Walker, D. & Watt, A. (2015) 'Visual perceptual learning in Cytopathology', in Heinen, T. (ed.) Advances in Visual Perception. New York: Nova Science Publishers, pp. 203-232.
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