While diagnoses and naming objects doctors use similar brain mechanisms to make diagnoses a study published in the Dec. 14 issue states in the online journal PLoS ONE and led by Marcio Melo of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Doctors often make diagnoses within their first moments of interaction with a patient. To investigate the neural processes involved in this quick diagnostic process, the researchers used functional MRI scanning to assess the cerebral activity in doctors while they diagnosed lesions in chest X-rays.
The results showed that the brain areas active during this task were strikingly similar to those activated while naming line drawings of animals embedded in chest X-rays. The doctors were able to begin to verbalize the correct diagnosis in an average of 1.33 seconds, indicating that this type of diagnosis can be very fast.