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Watching diagnoses develop: Eye movements reveal symptom processing during diagnostic reasoning


Scholz, Agnes; Krems, Josef F; Jahn, Georg (2017). Watching diagnoses develop: Eye movements reveal symptom processing during diagnostic reasoning. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(5):1398-1412.

Abstract

Finding a probable explanation for observed symptoms is a highly complex task that draws on information retrieval from memory. Recent research suggests that observed symptoms are interpreted in a way that maximizes coherence for a single likely explanation. This becomes particularly clear if symptom sequences support more than one explanation. However, there are no existing process data available that allow coherence maximization to be traced in ambiguous diagnostic situations, where critical information has to be retrieved from memory. In this experiment, we applied memory indexing, an eye-tracking method that affords rich time-course information concerning memory-based cognitive processing during higher order thinking, to reveal symptom processing and the preferred interpretation of symptom sequences. Participants first learned information about causes and symptoms presented in spatial frames. Gaze allocation to emptied spatial frames during symptom processing and during the diagnostic response reflected the subjective status of hypotheses held in memory and the preferred interpretation of ambiguous symptoms. Memory indexing traced how the diagnostic decision developed and revealed instances of hypothesis change and biases in symptom processing. Memory indexing thus provided direct online evidence for coherence maximization in processing ambiguous information.

Abstract

Finding a probable explanation for observed symptoms is a highly complex task that draws on information retrieval from memory. Recent research suggests that observed symptoms are interpreted in a way that maximizes coherence for a single likely explanation. This becomes particularly clear if symptom sequences support more than one explanation. However, there are no existing process data available that allow coherence maximization to be traced in ambiguous diagnostic situations, where critical information has to be retrieved from memory. In this experiment, we applied memory indexing, an eye-tracking method that affords rich time-course information concerning memory-based cognitive processing during higher order thinking, to reveal symptom processing and the preferred interpretation of symptom sequences. Participants first learned information about causes and symptoms presented in spatial frames. Gaze allocation to emptied spatial frames during symptom processing and during the diagnostic response reflected the subjective status of hypotheses held in memory and the preferred interpretation of ambiguous symptoms. Memory indexing traced how the diagnostic decision developed and revealed instances of hypothesis change and biases in symptom processing. Memory indexing thus provided direct online evidence for coherence maximization in processing ambiguous information.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:26 Sep 2017 14:48
Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 01:03
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1069-9384
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1294-8

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