Introduction to Pattern Analysis By Prof Gordon Parker

Posted on: August 30, 2020
Last Updated: August 30, 2020

Gordon Barraclough Parker AO is an Australian psychiatrist who is scientia professor of psychiatry at the University of New South Wales. Parker’s particular focus is on the phenomenology and epidemiology of mood disorders, social psychiatry, and the treatment and management of mood disorders. 

Author Quotes   

Medicine is awash with clinical guidelines, and by and large, guidelines are derived from randomised controlled data. They really reflect group phenomena but are not always helpful at the level of the individual.

Many people in psychiatry say the diagnosis is of no importance. I take a strongly differing view…not only do I try to come up with a diagnosis but I generally offer a probability estimate too.


In this talk, Prof Parker provides an overview of pattern analysis and the underlying neurobiological processes. 

He discusses pattern analysis at the experimental and personal level and the implicit mode of his adolescent mind. As a fifth-year medical student, he tells of the challenges of determining a diagnosis when no pattern is evident. 

On becoming a junior doctor, Prof Parker explains how his mind moved to a more convergent explicit reasoning mode and provides definitions for ‘clinical reasoning’ and ‘pattern analysis’. 

He moves on to talk about the book, “How Doctors Think,” by Kathryn Montgomery and presents her arguments on clinical reasoning and a pattern analytical approach to medicine. Continuing, he ends this video excerpt with the book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman, who also acknowledges that physicians need to be good diagnosticians. 


Take-Home Points  

  • Pattern analysis can be a component of clinical reasoning. 
  • Identifying clinical patterns is important in determining a diagnosis. 
  • Implicit, explicit, and convergent learning modes applied throughout our lifetimes can affect logic and thinking in terms of diagnostic issues.


Learn more

  1. Neurobiology of Brain Plasticity and Pattern Recognition – Prof Gordon Parker
  2. Pattern Analysis and Clinical Reasoning By Prof Gordon Parker
  3. Pattern Analysis: Q&A session With Prof Gordon Parker


  1. Montgomery, K. How Doctors Think. Clinical Judgement and the Practice of Medicine. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-518712-1.
  2. Kessel R. How Doctors Think: Clinical Judgement and the Practice of Medicine. J R Soc Med. 2006;99(4):205. 
  3. Kahneman D. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrer, Straus and Giroux. New York: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN: 9780141033570.
  4. Parker G. A Piece of My Mind. A psychiatrist on the couch. Pan Macmillan Australia. 2012. ISBN: 9781743345320