Eyes-on training and radiological expertise: an examination of expertise development and its effects on visual working memory

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OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to examine the specificity of the effects of acquiring expertise on visual working memory (VWM) and the degree to which higher levels of experience within the domain of expertise are associated with more efficient use of VWM. BACKGROUND: Previous research is inconsistent on whether expertise effects are specific to the area of expertise or generalize to other tasks that also involve the same cognitive processes. It is also unclear whether more training and/or experience will lead to continued improvement on domain-relevant tasks or whether a plateau could be reached. METHOD: In Experiment I, veterinary medicine students completed a one-shot visual change detection task. In Experiment 2, veterinarians completed a flicker change detection task. Both experiments involved stimuli specific to the domain of radiology and general stimuli. RESULTS: In Experiment I, veterinary medicine students who had completed an "eyes-on" radiological training demonstrated a domain-specific effect in which performance was better on the domain-specific stimuli than on the domain-general stimuli. In Experiment 2, veterinarians again showed a domain-specific effect, but performance was unrelated to the amount of experience veterinarians had accumulated. CONCLUSION: The effect of experience is domain specific and occurs during the first few years of training, after which a plateau is reached. APPLICATION: VWM training in one domain may not lead to improved performance on other VWM tasks. In acquiring expertise, eyes-on training is important initially, but continued experience may not be associated with further improvements in the efficiency of VWM.

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Human factors

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