December 5th, 2017, by Heidi Tran
3D Brain is an interactive model of the human brain developed as part of BrainFacts.org, a public information resource by the Kavli Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Society for Neuroscience. It is a high-resolution, easy-to-use, interactive platform for learning basic gross neuroanatomy and function.
Users can rotate the brain in three-dimensional space by dragging the mouse ‘hand’ in the desired direction. Hovering the ‘hand’ over a structure of interest will highlight and label the structure. For users who are interested in learning more about a particular structure, they can click on the structure to bring up a short fact sheet. A slider below the brain model allows users to increase or decrease the isolation of the structure from its surrounding structures in space. The isolated structure can likewise be rotated, allowing for a three-dimensional view. Users can also zoom in and out on the brain or structures of interest. Users who prefer to search the name of their structure of interest can do so by selecting from a drop-down list or by typing the structure into the search bar. Users can also take a snapshot of the brain/label/facts, but the creators ask that users credit Society for Neuroscience if they use any of these items in their work.
The ability to explore the location, appearance and function of not only the outer, visible brain structures but also the inner, hidden structures is one of the model’s best features – and makes it arguably more effective than holding an actual brain in your hand. 3D Brain would have been very useful to me as a Science undergraduate at the University of Sydney (2006-2008) trying to learn the names, locations and functions of brain structures, particularly the 12 cranial nerves; instead I actually did rely on real brain specimens, as well as text books and plastic models. As a PhD student in Neuroscience at the same university (2010-2014), 3D Brain would have made for a great brainstorming and teaching resource for my research, for mentoring new research students, and tutoring undergraduate lab classes. I would recommend 3D Brain as a resource to anyone who is interested in learning the gross structure and function of the human brain.
Copyright © Society for Neuroscience (2017)