Visual Search – Why Experts Don’t Always Find What They Are Looking For

Up to 30% of all breast cancer findings in the US are missed in the first screening and only found in follow up screenings a year or so later. Experts call this “retrospectively visible unreported breast cancer”. Why don’t experts always find what they are looking for? In his guest lecture at ZHAW School of Applied Psychology, Jeremy Wolfe, Professor at Harvard Medical School, explains this phenomenon and points out the difficulties of visual search.


Jeremy WolfeJeremy Wolfe is Professor of Ophthalmology and Radiology at Harvard Medical School. He is Director of the Visual Attention Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Wolfe received an AB in Psychology in 1977 from Princeton and his PhD in Psychology in 1981 from MIT. His research focuses on visual search and visual attention with a particular interest in socially important search tasks in areas such as medical image perception (e.g. cancer screening), security (e.g. baggage screening), and intelligence. Wolfe is Editor-in-Chief of Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications (CRPI).

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