I Thought Neuroanatomy was Difficult: Development of New Computer-Based Methods for Learning the Anatomy of the Brain

Date: November 05, 2008 Time: (All day)
Event Type: Lecture

Neuroanatomy has a long-held reputation as a difficult discipline to master.
Such a challenging process of learning appears to be characteristic of anatomical disciplines in which the primary method for viewing structures is through sectional imagery (e.g., microscope slides and MRI images).

My work is premised on the belief that new interactive computer-based methods can make learning neuroanatomy far more efficient. These methods can streamline education in biomedicine and make basic neuroanatomy accessible to everyone.

In this talk, I report work that included:

1) construction of a new 3D computer graphical model of the human brain based on the Visible Human (Vers. 2.0);
2) development of several interactive computer graphical programs that permitted students to learn neuroanatomy both for 3D whole structures and sectional views;
3) empirical measurement and experimental comparison of learning for 72 participants who began the study with no knowledge of neuroanatomy;
4) tests of delayed retention of knowledge and generalization to interpretation of biomedical images (Visible Human and MRI).

Consistent with initial hypotheses, learning the brain as whole 3D structures was substantially faster than learning it in sectional views. There was good transfer of knowledge from whole brain learning to sectional learning.
Generalization of learning to biomedical images was overall quite good, although it depended on the quality of the images (with Visible Human images being substantially easier than MRI images) and the specific nature of the test. This lecture is archived at