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Ann Carrigan, Paul Stoodley, Fernando Fernandez, Mackenzie Sunday, Mark Wiggins; Individual differences in echocardiography: Cue utilisation relates to visual object recognition ability.. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):139. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.139.
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Echocardiographers are highly specialised and skilled practitioners, and play a critical role in diagnostic medicine. Their responsibility is to perform dynamic ultrasounds of the heart that provide information about its structural integrity and function. Medical image perception is a visual task which is prone to error. Yet, little is known about the cognitive and perceptual attributes of experts within this domain. We examined the role of individual differences in expertise and specifically, the contribution of pattern recognition, or cue utilisation, and domain general visual expertise. Data were collected from 42 echocardiographers and 42 naïve participants. All of the participants competed the Novel Object Memory Test (NOMT; Richler et al., 2017), a measure of general object recognition ability. When compared, the echocardiographers were more accurate on the NOMT than the naïve participants. Next, the echocardiographers completed an echocardiography edition of the Expert Intensive Skills Evaluation 2.0 (EXPERTise 2.0; Wiggins, Loveday, & Auton, 2015), to establish behavioral indicators of context-related cue utilization. Behavioural indicators of higher or lower cue utilisation were established based on the participants’ performance across five tasks. Echocardiographers with more experience demonstrated relatively higher cue utilization, establishing the construct validity of EXPERTise 2.0. Those with relatively higher cue utilization also performed more accurately on the NOMT. These results suggest that both a domain general perceptual ability and a sensitivity to cue based learning may contribute to expertise in echocardiography. This has important implications for the development of diagnostic skills.
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