MSBNC has posted an interesting piece, Art Classes Hone Med Students' Visual Skills, on how medical students are learning to better their observational skills through art appreciation.
In a collaboration between Jefferson Medical College and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, first and second year students are taught how to take a visual inventory of paintings, paying particular attention to subtle elements, such texture and brightness, and specifics details, such as body language and facial expressions. For the 2007-2008 school year, classes such as "Accuracy and Perception," "Hand-Eye Coordination," "Art in Healing," and "Sculpture and Surgery" have been planned.
A 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that medical students at Yale University taking similar courses displayed sharper observational skills than their colleagues who didn’t take such courses, according to MSNBC.
The piece reminded me of this bit of data from another study reported at Cognitive Daily that compared the eye movement of trained artists and casual observers while looking at the same images. It concluded that those trained in the visual arts just see more.