How doctors make diagnoses

December 14, 2011

Doctors use similar brain mechanisms to make diagnoses and to name objects, according to a study published in the Dec. 14 issue of 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.

Understanding the neural basis of medical diagnosis may contribute to the development of better techniques to improve diagnostic expertise and reduce diagnostic errors. This is the first published investigation of the brain mechanisms directly involved in medical diagnosis. Furthermore, the results of this study imply that the vast knowledge obtained from cognitive neuroscience studies on the recognition and naming of objects can be brought to bear on the improvement of diagnostic practices.
-end-
Citation: Melo M, Scarpin DJ, Amaro E Jr, Passos RBD, Sato JR, et al. (2011) How Doctors Generate Diagnostic Hypotheses: A Study of Radiological Diagnosis with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28752. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028752

Financial Disclosure: This study is part of the Cooperac¸a˜o Interinstitucional de Apoio a` Pesquisa sobre o Cerebro (CINAPCE) funded by Fundac¸a˜o de Amparo a` Pesquisa do Estado de Sa˜o Paulo (FAPESP), Brazil. Cathy J. Price and Karl J. Friston are funded by the Wellcome Trust, UK. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends): http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028752

Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLoS ONE. The releases have been provided by article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

About PLoS ONE

PLoS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.

All works published in PLoS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLoS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.plos.org/media.

PLOS

Related Diagnosis Articles from Brightsurf:

Towards an AI diagnosis like the doctor's
Artificial intelligence is an important innovation in diagnostics, because it can learn to recognize abnormalities that a doctor would also label as a disease.

Knowledge of cancer diagnosis may affect survival
In a Psycho-Oncology study of adults in China with lung cancer, patients who knew of their cancer diagnosis generally survived longer than those who did not.

CT provides best diagnosis for COVID-19
In a study of more than 1,000 patients published in the journal Radiology, chest CT outperformed lab testing in the diagnosis of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

3D model of human liver for better diagnosis
Dresden researchers create liver model for improved diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Brain changes may help track dementia, even before diagnosis
Even before a dementia diagnosis, people with mild cognitive impairment may have different changes in the brain depending on what type of dementia they have, according to a study published in the September 11, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

What's causing your vertigo? Goggles may help with diagnosis
Vertigo is a form of severe dizziness that can result in a loss of balance, a feeling of falling, trouble walking or standing, or nausea.

Mobile, instant diagnosis of viruses
In a first for plant virology, a team from CIRAD recently used nanopore technology to sequence the entire genomes of two yam RNA viruses.

The Lancet: Early age of type 1 diabetes diagnosis linked to greater heart risks and shorter life expectancy, compared to later diagnosis
Peer reviewed / Observational study / People Life-expectancy for individuals with younger-onset disease is on average 16 years shorter compared to people without diabetes, and 10 years shorter for those diagnosed at an older age.

Diagnosis is a collaborative process
According to family physician Norbert Donner-Banzhoff, building an effective relationship with a patient and making a diagnosis are not separate skills.

New clues to sepsis may speed diagnosis
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center have found a clue in understanding how an infection can spiral into sepsis by blunting the body's immune response.

Read More: Diagnosis News and Diagnosis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.