Are sound abatement measures necessary in the cytology reading room? A study of auditory distraction
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Objective Listening to music and other auditory material during microscopy work is common practice among cytologists. While many cytologists would claim several benefits of such activity, research in other fields suggests that it might adversely affect diagnostic performance. Using a cross-modal distraction paradigm, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of auditory stimulation on the visual interpretation of cell images. Methods Following initial training, 34 participants undertook cell interpretation tests under four auditory conditions (liked music, disliked music, speech and silence) in a counterbalanced repeated-measures study. Error rate, area under the ROC curve, criterion and response time were measured for each condition. Results There was no significant effect of auditory stimulation on the accuracy or speed with which cell images were interpreted, mirroring the results of a previous visual distraction study. Conclusions To the extent that the experiment reflects clinical practice, listening to music or other forms of auditory material whilst undertaking microscopy duties is an unlikely source of distraction in the cytopathology reading room. From a cognitive perspective the results are consistent with the notion that high focal-task engagement may have blocked any attentional capture the sound may otherwise have produced.
Evered A, Watt, W and Perham, N. (2017) 'Auditory distraction in the cytology reading room? A study of auditory distraction', Cytopathology
This article was published in Cytopathology on 07 September 2017 (online), available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cyt.12457
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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