Radiologists Can Detect Subtle Breast Cancer In Split Second, Study Finds

Years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a mega-bestseller called “Blink,” arguing that sometimes we make better choices unconsciously, in the blink of an eye, than we do after careful consideration.

New research suggests that there can be a certain “Blink” element to breast cancer screening — not in medical practice, but in doctors’ brains. It found that radiologists can be strikingly good at detecting even subtle abnormalities on a mammogram at first glance, in a split second.

I spoke with Dr. Jeremy Wolfe, senior author on the paper and director of the Visual Attention Lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (He’s best known as an expert on how we look for things that we want to find: where we left our keys, cancer on scans, bombs in luggage.) Our conversation, edited:

CG: How would you sum up what you found?

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