Activity in the fusiform face area supports expert perception in radiologists, and does not depend upon holistic processing of images

Stephen A. Engel, Erin M. Harley, Whitney B. Pope, J. Pablo Villablanca, John C. Mazziotta, Dieter Enzmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Training in radiology dramatically changes observers' ability to process images, but the neural bases of this visual expertise remain unexplored. Prior imaging work has suggested that the fusiform face area (FFA), normally selectively responsive to faces, becomes responsive to images in observers' area of expertise. The FFA has been hypothesized to be important for "holistic" processing that integrates information across the entire image. Here, we report a cross-sectional study of radiologists that used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure neural activity in first-year radiology residents, fourth-year radiology residents, and practicing radiologists as they detected abnormalities in chest radiographs. Across subjects, activity in the FFA correlated with visual expertise, measured as behavioral performance during scanning. To test whether processing in the FFA was holistic, we measured its responses both to intact radiographs and radiographs that had been divided into 25 square pieces whose locations were scrambled. Activity in the FFA was equal in magnitude for intact and scrambled images, and responses to both kinds of stimuli correlated reliably with expertise. These results suggest that the FFA is one of the cortical regions that provides the basis of expertise in radiology, but that its contribution is not holistic processing of images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2009
Subtitle of host publicationImage Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 22 2009
EventMedical Imaging 2009: Image Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment - Lake Buena Vista, FL, United States
Duration: Feb 11 2009Feb 12 2009

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
Volume7263
ISSN (Print)1605-7422

Other

OtherMedical Imaging 2009: Image Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment
CountryUnited States
CityLake Buena Vista, FL
Period2/11/092/12/09

Keywords

  • Image perception
  • Radiological expertise
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual processing

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    Engel, S. A., Harley, E. M., Pope, W. B., Villablanca, J. P., Mazziotta, J. C., & Enzmann, D. (2009). Activity in the fusiform face area supports expert perception in radiologists, and does not depend upon holistic processing of images. In Medical Imaging 2009: Image Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment [72630M] (Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE; Vol. 7263). https://doi.org/10.1117/12.812250