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Radiologists Spot Cancer on CT Scan, Miss Dancing Gorilla

A new psychological study from Brigham and Women's Hospital discovered that 83 percent of radiologists can easily spot cancer in CT scans, but fail to notice even the most obvious of other items.

What sort of obvious items? Well, the radiologists were unable to see the hairy ape in the picture to your right despite running their eyes over it four times on average. According to The Daily Mail, the gorilla test was conducted on 24 credentialed radiologists at the top-notch Boston hospital.

Researchers asked the radiologists to look at a typical lung cancer screening using the CT scans of five patients. The first four images that the radiologists were shown were clean, but hidden in the stack of images from the fifth patient were scans showing the dancing gorilla. Only four out of 24 radiologists spotted the abnormality.

During the study, researchers used eye tracking technology to see where the researchers had been looking and if they passed over the gorilla on the CT scan. Trafton Drew, who ran the study, said: “The majority of them looked directly at the gorilla for extended periods of time. They just don't see it.”

Don’t let this influence your feelings about radiologists. Drew repeated the experiment with 25 adults who had no medical training and every single one missed the gorilla.

It is believed that the test subjects were suffering from “inattentional blindness,” a reassuring condition stemming from the fact that the radiologists were specifically and intently looking for cancer in the CT Scans and not a dancing gorilla.

“Radiologists are amazingly good at finding cancer, but that does not mean that they see everything. One reason that they are so good at detecting cancer might be that they are really tightly focusing their attention on the task at hand,” Drew said. “The consequence of focusing your attention really tightly is that you may be prone to missing things which may be pretty obvious in retrospect.”

Source: (The Daily Mail)


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