(This is the second in a series about cognition and how it relates to medical product design.)

When we interact with a surgical tool, medical device, lab instrument or any object, our first impression will most likely be visual. We’ll see the object and then begin to make sense of it and understand how to use it. But what we perceive visually is not just what the eye senses; visual stimuli are then interpreted by the brain. Our cognitive processes both add information that isn’t there and removes information that is. Below is an example of the former. Both of the images below are made up of the same objects, but in different arrangements. In one image we see triangles and circles. In the other we don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

This facet of our visual system is important to medical product design because the way in which visual information is arranged and grouped has a strong influence on how the user interprets and understands the product and how easy or difficult it is to use. We’ll get to practical examples in later posts.