New approaches to the analysis of eye movement behaviour across expertise while viewing brain MRIs

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Brain tumor detection and diagnosis requires clinicians to inspect and analyse brain magnetic resonance images. Eye-tracking is commonly used to examine observers’ gaze behaviour during such medical image interpretation tasks but analysis of eye movement sequences is limited. We therefore used ScanMatch, a novel technique that compares saccadic eye movement sequences, to examine the effect of expertise and diagnosis on the similarity of scanning patterns. Diagnostic accuracy was also recorded. Thirty-five participants were classified as Novices, Medics and Experts based on their level of expertise. Participants completed two brain tumor detection tasks. The first was a whole-brain task, which consisted of 60 consecutively presented slices from one patient; the second was an independent-slice detection task, which consisted of 32 independent slices from five different patients. Experts displayed the highest accuracy and sensitivity followed by medics and then novices in the independent-slice task. Experts showed the highest level of scanning pattern similarity, with medics engaging in the least similar scanning patterns, for both the whole-brain and independent-slice task. In the independent-slice task, scanning patterns were the least similar for false negatives across all expertise levels and most similar for experts when they responded correctly. These results demonstrate the value of using ScanMatch in the medical image perception literature. Future research adopting this tool could, for example, identify cases that yield low scanning similarity and so provide insight into why diagnostic errors occur and ultimately help in training radiologists.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Early online date25 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Structured keywords

  • Memory
  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception


  • Brain Tumor Detection
  • Eye-tracking
  • ScanMatch
  • Expertise
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Medical Image Perception


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