Visual Reasoning Revisited:

More on Cognition, Recognition, and Recall

(C) 2000 Richard Katz

Bridging the Gap between Matter and Symbol IV

(On [or back] to The Philosophy of Quicktime, Bridging the Gap between Matter and Symbol I ) or Cognition, Recognition and Recall


The Moment of Interpretation of the Images by an ace radiologist is the consummate exemplar of visual reasoning.

Before this moment of interpretation can take place, the radiologist performs the Stanislavskian physical clue of whipping the photographic images -- the "X-Rays" -- onto the array of lightboxes behind the desk in his office. That characteristic physical motion of dealing out the short stack of photographic plates, like a cardshark but with that vertical motion at the end so the unwieldy plates end up skunched perfectly onto the lightboard, is the first indication that the radiologist is one of those people (people I have pursued videographically for several years now) who "don't need to rehearse." It doesn't matter if there are two, or five, or ten of those plates; zip, zip, zip, one after the other, each a perfectly executed move. It's pretty cool.

Then comes the Moment of Interpretation. The tomes of anatomy and physiology that the radiologist has studied; the years of interpreting images and the subsequent diagnosis, treatment, and resolution of the symptomatology that the radiologist has experienced; and the quick study of the similarities and differences of such images -- different views, usually, sometimes with different methods of visualization -- amongst themselves; all are incorporated in a flash of recognition, and then the reaching for the dictation device that commits the radiologist's insight to the physicians down the chain of command. (Except for the surgeon, they all take their "suggestions" from him; the surgeon, he would confer with.)

The Interpretation of the Images is often routine, requiring a routine kind of genius; but way too often with humans and their manifold and complicated worldly activities it requires a step beyond genius into the ingenious. The radiologist already had to memorize, and achieve cognition, with all the stuff in the books, the anatomy and the physiology and the nuclear science -- a long slow process of enculturation and education and situated cognition. Now, in the Moment of Interpretation of the Images, the radiologist reads the images by a process of visual reasoning that is simply astounding. And they whip those plates up there on the lightboxes just the way they were shown to do so, by the repetitious acts of their mentors. *

Anybody wants to quibble with me about whether or not it's "reasoning" is welcome to do so. There are no atheists in foxholes, and there's no quibbling on the gurney; you're waiting in the hallway while the radiologist studies your image for mere seconds, and you're going to live or die (after your car accident) by the readiologist's very, very quick "reasoning."

Richard Katz 2000

Back to FrogOJT page., with links to some Quicktime movies.

On (or back) to The Philosophy of Quicktime, Bridging the Gap between Matter and Symbol I



*and by the way, FrogOJT and its successor GetSkilz, at this point can only get a worker up to the skill level of zipping the plates onto the lightboxes. Zip zip zip zip zip zip ..........

But GetSkilz could do a helluva job imparting consummate skill to the Radiology Department's Technicians.