, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 209–218 | Cite as

Gestalt descriptions embodiments and medical image interpretation

  • Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen FriisEmail author
Original Article


In this paper I will argue that medical specialists interpret and diagnose through technological mediations like X-ray and fMRI images, and by actualizing embodied skills tacitly they are determining the identity of objects in the perceptual field. The initial phase of human interpretation of visual objects takes place during the moments of visual perception before we are consciously aware of the perceived. What facilitate this innate ability to interpret are experiences, learning and training that become humanly embodied skills. These embodied skills are actualized during the moments of visual perception. My argument is that biology, society and instruments constitute unique individual ontologies influencing specialist readings of the technological output, in other words, putting limits on the “truth-to-nature” relation, which is so much sought for in science.


Hermeneutics Visual perception Radiology Medical imaging Tacit knowledge Pre-conscious interpretation Thinking 


  1. Baars BJ (1988) A cognitive theory of consciousness. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Barry AMS (1997) Visual intelligence: perception, image, and manipulation in visual communication. State University of New York Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  3. Chua HF, Boland JE, Nisbett RE (2005) Cultural variation in eye movements during scene perception. PNAS 102(35):12629–12633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Daston L, Galison P (2007) Objectivity. ZONE Books, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Friis JKBO (2011a) Perception: embodiment and beyond. Found Sci 17(4):363–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Friis JKBO (2011b) Interpreting the visual. Philos Technol 25(2):249–270MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Friis JKBO (2015) Towards a hermeneutics of unveiling. In: Rosenberger R, Verbeek P-P (eds) Postphenomenological investigations: essays on human-technology relations. Lexington Books/Rowman Littlefield Press, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldstein EB (1989) Sensation and perception. Wadsworth, Pacific GroveGoogle Scholar
  9. Gregory RL (1970) The intelligent eye. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Heidegger M (1998) Till tänkandets sak. Svensk oversættelse af Zur Sache des Denkens ved Daniel Birnbaum & Sven-Olov Wallenstein. Bokförlaget Thales, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  11. Ihde D (1998) Expanding hermeneutics: visualism in science. Northwestern University Press, EvanstonGoogle Scholar
  12. Ihde D (2009) Postphenomenology and technoscience: the Peking University Lectures. Suny Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  13. Ingarden R (1970) Innføring i edmund husserls fenomenologi: 10 Oslo forelesninger. J.G. Tanum, OsloGoogle Scholar
  14. Kevles BH (1997) Naked to the bone: medical imaging in the twentieth century. The sloan technology series. Basic Books, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Konstantinou N et al (2012) Visual short-term memory load reduces retinotopic cortex response to contrast. J Cogn Sci 24(11):2199–2210Google Scholar
  16. Koontz NA, Gunderman RB (2008) Gestalt theory: implications for radiology education. AJR Am J Roentgenol 190(5):1156–1160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kuhn T (1996) The structure of scientific revolutions, vol 3. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kundel HL (2006) History of research in medical image perception. J Am Coll Radiol 2006(3):402–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leape LL (1994) Error in medicine. JAMA 272(23):1851–1857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Libet B (2006) Reflections on the interaction of the mind and brain. Prog Neurobiol 78:322–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marr D (2001) The philosophy and the approach. In: Yantis S (ed) Key readings in cognition: visual perception. Psychology Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Nesbitt RE (2003) The geography of thought. The Free Press, NewYorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Noë A (2002) Is the world a grand illusion? J Conscious Stud 9:5–6Google Scholar
  24. Noë A (2004) Action in perception. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Palmer SE (1999) Vision science: photons to phenomenology. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Phelps EA, Ling S, Carrasco M (2006) Emotion facilitates perception and potentiates the perceptual benefits of attention. Psychol Sci 17:4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Radder H (2006) The world observed/the world conceived. University of Pittsburgh Press, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  28. Rasmussen J, Jensen A (1974) Mental procedures in real-life tasks: a case study of electronic trouble shooting. Ergonomics 17(3):293–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sabih D, Sabih A, Sabih Q, Khan AN (2011) Image perception and interpretation of abnormalities; can we believe our eyes? Can we do something about it? Insights Imaging 2(1):47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tripathi AK (2015) Culture of sedimentation in the human–technology interaction. AI Soc. doi: 10.1007/s00146-015-0581-z Google Scholar
  31. Varela FJ, Thompson E, Rosch E (1993) The embodied mind. Cognitive science and human experience. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Verbeek P-P (2003) Material hermeneutics. Techné 6(3), Spring 2003.
  33. Zadra JR, Clore GL (2011) Emotion and perception: the role of affective information. WIREs Cogn Sci 2(6):676–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zeelenberg R, Wagenmakers EJ, Rottveel M (2006) The impact of emotion on perception—bias or enhanced processing? Psychol Sci 17:4CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Health Services Research, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies, CSSUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations