The dedicated investigation of medical image perception has been around since World War II and in the past 25 years or so has attracted many new investigators taking the field into a variety of new and exciting applications areas. What makes the study of medical image perception unique is the fact that there is no single degree or area of training that characterizes those practicing it. We’re a bit of a motley bunch – psychologists, medical physicists, engineers, human factors experts, clinicians, statisticians – but we all have the same core interest – to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the interpretation of medical images so we can prevent errors and ultimately impact patient care.

This diversity in researchers and expertise, however, can make it difficult for someone to break into the field as there are generally not that many educational programs that focus on medical image perception theory, practice or techniques. We have our conferences and often hold workshops dedicated to exposing new investigators to some of our techniques, but these rely on the right people being at the right meeting. For example, our key meeting is the Medical Image Perception Society’s (MIPS) biennial conference where the majority of us have been meeting since 1983. These conferences have brought together radiologists, psychologists, physicists, engineers, and statisticians who have had diverse approaches to the common issue of medical image perception. The participants have come from universities, hospitals, private companies, and government agencies. This diversity and the longevity of the conference is evidence of the strength and vitality of the medical image perception discipline. We consistently support students in hopes of fostering their continued involvement in medical image perception research. Since 1994, as part of SPIE’s annual Medical Imaging Conferences there has also been an image perception track that has grown over the years as well.

Although these meetings are a great way for junior and senior, expert and non-expert, basic and clinical researchers to get together and share ideas, if you can’t make the meeting you’re a bit out of luck. Keeping up on the research literature is of course useful and highly informative, but it’s quite diverse, can require a bit of effort to pull it all together, and doesn’t always provide the bit of didactic information one is looking for when trying to get a comprehensive picture of the field. That’s where The Handbook of Medical Image Perception and Techniques comes in handy. Ehsan Samei, PhD and I recruited a cohort of experts in the field back in 2009 to write the 1st edition of the book which was published in 2010.

That edition was truly a 1st in many ways. It was the first book of its kind overall to deal exclusively with medical image perception in a comprehensive way to serve as a resource for those in the field as well as those simply interested in finding out more. It was the first book to capture the history the field by some of the seminal researchers in the field, including Hal Kundel, MD, Cal Nodine, PhD, Bob Wagner, PhD and Art Burgess, PhD. The core insights into medical image perception and some of the stories told cannot be found anywhere else except this book. The importance of these investigators and their contributions to the early foundations of our field cannot be denied. For this reason, we have essentially left untouched their chapters in the 2nd edition being released in December 2018.

The 2nd edition is, I believe, even more useful and interesting than the 1st! We kept and updated many of the core chapters from the 1st edition that truly serve as a foundation for anyone trying to capture the essence of the field and get exposed to many of the key techniques and technologies (e.g., eye tracking) that have become the most recognizable and important tools used over the years. The first section as already noted retains chapters by Kundel, Nodine, Wagner and Burgess. A new chapter in this section discusses the overall context of medical image perception in healthcare. The second section discusses the science of medical image perception, including visual and cognitive factors, satisfaction of search, and the role of expertise. Another new chapter on the role of sub-second and peripheral vision/perception in image interpretation has been added.
The third section focuses on perception metrology with chapters focused on the logistical aspects of designing perception experiments, ROC methodology, and its variants. The impact of memory effects for images in the context of running observer studies is dealt with in a new chapter and another one addresses 3D and 4D models. Perceptual observer models and their implementation as well as an assessment of the overall value and limitations of such models is also dealt with in this section.

Section four is completely new and describes perception in the context of multi-source imaging and data and provides the history and impact of two international programs designed to assess clinical performance of mammographers over time and in comparison to their peers for overall quality assessment. The fifth section has some old and some new – it focuses on computational perception and CAD issues with topics ranging from the design of CAD studies and perceptual impact of CAD to perceptual factors associated with the use of CAD in interpreting chest, breast, and volumetric images. A new chapter discusses the evaluation of CAD, and another one images as a source of quantitative information.

Section six is on applied perception and offers information on dealing with specific optimization and use considerations from a perceptual standpoint. New and revised chapters cover display optimization, reading environment and ergonomic design of workplaces for radiologists, image perception in pathology, and perceptual basis for developing human search-based training and computer-based training methods. The final chapter summarizes image perception from the perspective of a practicing radiologist and an epilogue outlines future possible directions for medical image perception science.

This 2nd Edition of The Handbook of Medical Image Perception and Techniques will hopefully not only make its way to your bookshelf but will also find itself being taken off and referred to on a regular basis! The amount of information, insight and data captured between the two covers is unrivaled. The authors are world experts and their chapters truly reflect this. This text will appeal to just about anyone interested in the art and science behind the interpretation of medical images.

The Handbook of Medical Image Perception and Techniques, published December 2018 is available in Hardback and for institutional purchase via Cambridge Core

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