The effect of mental rotation on surgical pathological diagnosis

Heejung Park, Hyun Soo Kim, Yoon Jin Cha, Junjeong Choi, Yangki Minn, Kyung Sik Kim, Se Hoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Pathological diagnosis involves very delicate and complex consequent processing that is conducted by a pathologist. The recognition of false patterns might be an important cause of misdiagnosis in the field of surgical pathology. In this study, we evaluated the influence of visual and cognitive bias in surgical pathologic diagnosis, focusing on the influence of “mental rotation.” Materials and Methods: We designed three sets of the same images of uterine cervix biopsied specimens (original, left to right mirror images, and 180-degree rotated images), and recruited 32 pathologists to diagnose the 3 set items individually. Results: First, the items found to be adequate for analysis by classical test theory, Generalizability theory, and item response theory. The results showed statistically no differences in difficulty, discrimination indices, and response duration time between the image sets. Conclusion: Mental rotation did not influence the pathologists’ diagnosis in practice. Interestingly, outliers were more frequent in rotated image sets, suggesting that the mental rotation process may influence the pathological diagnoses of a few individual pathologists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-451
Number of pages7
JournalYonsei medical journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Brain Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (2016M3C7A1913844) and Faculty Research Grant of Yonsei University College of Medicine for Se Hoon Kim (6-2015-0147).

Publisher Copyright:
© Yonsei University College of Medicine 2018.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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