Research Lead: Cognitive


“The Invisible Gorilla Strikes Again Sustained Inattentional Blindness in Expert Observers”

[Cognitive Psychology]

Did you see the gorilla? Contributing to the growing body of evidence on inattentional blindness, –the phenomenon that people often fail to recognize salient stimuli while engaged in another task–Drew et al. performed a study that examined how expert radiologists would fare if an anomalous stimuli was placed in lung CT scans. In the experiment, professional radiologists were tasked with detecting cancer nodes in 5 chest CT scans. In the final scan, the experimenters inserted the outline of a gorilla. Of the 24 radiologists who performed the task, 20 missed the gorilla. Eye tracking data of the radiologists who “did not see” the gorilla, indicated that the majority had looked directly at its position. The researchers suggest these results illustrate that even individuals with high levels of expertise can still fall victim to the limits of attention and perception. This work has implications for understanding how mistakes can be avoided during search tasks, especially in the healthcare industry, where the consequences of missed information can be catastrophic.