Document Type

Journal Article


Computing, Health and Science


Psychology and Social Science




This article was originally published as: Speelman, C., Martin, K., Flower, S., & Simpson, T. (2010). Skill Acquisition in Skin Cancer Detection. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 110(1), 277-297. Original article available here


Previous research has shown that the ability to detect potentially dangerous skin lesions is not improved by viewing a pamphlet describing the characteristic features of such lesions. A different approach to improving this skill was investigated in this study. 100 student recruits were tested to investigate the effect of practice at distinguishing between dangerous and nondangerous skin lesions. Around 30 minutes of such practice, viewing 360 pictures of skin lesions, provided a significant advantage in making decisions about a target set of dangerous and nondangerous lesions, compared to no practice or practice with a filler task. Viewing a skin cancer pamphlet for 5 min. at the beginning of the experiment made no difference to the speed or accuracy of decisions regarding the test lesions. The results are interpreted as evidence for a form of implicit learning of a skin cancer detection skill, a finding that is consistent with what is known of the nature of expertise in dermatologists. The results also point to the ineffectiveness of pamphlets to engender such expertise in the general public.




Link to publisher version (DOI)