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The Cognitive Science of Medical Expertise

The basic science of expert knowledge and performance has long been of interest in psychology and education, and medicine is an outstanding example. Medical professionals acquire complex, interrelated knowledge and skills—e.g., symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments—over a period of years. They apply their skills in daily professional activities with stakes for patient health and well-being. And, they must keep cognitive skills current even as standards of care change. 

At the same time, the acquisition, maintenance, and assessment of medical expertise is in transition, often from point-in-time assessments to more frequent activities designed for both assessment and learning.  These transitions present exciting opportunities to apply cognitive science to facilitate the development and retention of medical expertise.

Studies in this special issue may examine learning by physicians and other medical professionals anywhere in the continuum from undergraduate study to continuing education. They may also probe the cognitive representation and processing of medical knowledge with studies of clinical reasoning or of medical errors. Studies may report novel empirical data and/or theoretical perspectives or reviews.

Edited by:

  • Scott Fraundorf
  • Susanne Lajoie
  • Nikki Woods
  1. Radiologists often need only a glance to grasp the essence of complex medical images. Here, we use paradigms and manipulations from perceptual learning and expertise fields to elicit mechanisms and limits of h...

    Authors: Merim Bilalić, Thomas Grottenthaler, Thomas Nägele and Tobias Lindig
    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2022 7:99