Individual Differences Among Users: Implications for the Design of 3D Medical Visualizations

Individual Differences Among Users: Implications for the Design of 3D Medical Visualizations

Madeleine Keehner (University of Dundee, UK), Peter Khooshabeh (University of California–Santa Barbara, USA) and Mary Hegarty (University of California–Santa Barbara, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-777-5.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter examines human factors associated with using interactive three-dimensional (3D) visualizations. Virtual representations of anatomical structure and function, often with sophisticated user control capabilities, are growing in popularity in medicine for education, training, and simulation. This chapter reviews the cognitive science literature and introduces issues such as theoretical ideas related to using interactive visualizations, different types and levels of interactivity, effects of different kinds of control interfaces, and potential cognitive benefits of these tools. The authors raise the question of whether all individuals are equally capable of using 3D visualizations effectively, focusing particularly on two variables: (1) individual differences in spatial abilities, and (2) individual differences in interactive behavior. The chapter draws together findings from the authors’ own studies and from the wider literature, exploring recent insights into how individual differences among users can impact the effectiveness of different types of external visualizations for different kinds of tasks. The chapter offers recommendations for design, such as providing transparent affordances to support users’ meta-cognitive understanding, and employing personalization to complement the capabilities of different individuals. Finally, the authors suggest future directions and approaches for research, including the use of methodology such as needs analysis and contextual enquiry to better understand the cognitive processes and capacities of different kinds of users.

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