What is the Medical Imaging Perception Society (MIPS)?

Rationale for the Medical Image Perception Society

A. Introduction

The medical image perception discipline seeks an improved understanding of the perceptual factors that underlie the creation and interpretation of medical images. This improved understanding impacts on medical imaging in several ways.

  1. An improved diagnostic performance using imaging devices can be achieved by developing imaging systems which are optimized for the interpretation of the visual diagnostic information.
  2. Perception research will identify the specific reasons for missed diagnoses and thus to help train physicians and eliminate diagnostic errors.
  3. Perception research can clarify situations in which errors are a consequence of fundamentally ambiguous information rather than negligence.

B. Can medical image perception exist as distinct discipline?

Medical image perception research measures the human observer's ability to perform specific diagnostic tasks using real or simulated medical images and compares the observer performance with predictions from quantitative models. The following three characteristics of medical image interpretation limit the ability of traditional psychophysical models to predict human observers performance on these tasks:

  1. The information-bearing variation of image brightness can be degraded by visible stochastic noise (e.g., film grain and quantum mottle). Stochastic noise is particularly important in the new "digital" modalities, such as CT, MR, PET and SPECT. Most investigations in traditional perception research use visual stimuli that are not degraded by stochastic noise.
  2. Biological variability (e.g., variation in the sizes and locations of diagnostically important details) degrades a human observer's diagnostic performance.
  3. Most radiological tasks are complex interpretations for which the formal assumptions of traditional psychophysics may not apply. For example, viewing time and viewing distance from medical images are under the control of the observer. (Many perception experiments limit the viewing time or control the viewing distance to impoverish the observers' visual information in order produce errors.) For these reasons, the analyses and accurate predictions of medical image perception data require unique formal models.

C. The Significance of Perception Research

The significance of perception research means it will remain vital. Careful designs and evaluations of medical imaging systems are critical in view of their enormous costs. Measuring the advantage of one system over another requires demonstrating improved performance of human observers in a complex imaging task using clinical images.

The lack of accepted perception models implies that results from one clinical trial cannot be used to predict the results of another involving a different imaging task or imaging system. Medical perception research develops and applies modern methods to the evaluation of observer performance in diagnostic imaging tasks. Medical perception research develops and validates perception models.

Consequently, medical image perception research will be the source of more efficient procedures to evaluate new diagnostic imaging systems. Medical image perception research will provide models that will accurately anticipate the diagnostic benefit of new diagnostic imaging systems and will assure their optimum design.

D. Do numbers of individuals interested in medical image perception justify a society?

While a strong rational may exist for a discipline of medical image perception, an important question regarding the organization of a formal organization remains. Would enough individuals participate in a scientific, medical image perception society to make it viable and effective?

The most important evidence that a such a society would be viable is a series of conferences named the Far West Image Perception Conference. The first conferences were held in the far west of the United States, hence its name, with the very first being held in Park City, Utah, October 6-8, 1983. These conferences have brought together radiologists, psychologists, physicists, engineers, and statisticians who have had diverse approaches to the common issue of medical image perception. The participants have come from universities, hospitals, private companies, and government agencies. This diversity and the longevity of the conference is evidence of the strength and vitality of the medical image perception discipline.

Since 1994, as part of SPIE's Medical Imaging Conferences, an annual conference on image perception has been presented. At the Medical Imaging Conference in 1996 in Newport Beach, California, individuals interested in medical image perception met and decided attempt to organize medical image perception in more formal manner. The Medical Image Perception Society manages the MIPS Conferences (formerly the Far West Conferences) and promotes medical image perception research and its application.

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