The 3D Brain App for iOS is a free 3D animation application that is valuable for learning about brain structures and functions. This app is useful for introductory students and undergraduates in basic or physiological psychology courses who would like to learn the names and functions of several of the most common brain structures, regions and their respective purposes. The 3D Brain App for iOS has been created by Vivid Apps and AXS Biomedical Animation Studio for the Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). The 3D brain is derived from the Genes to Cognition (G2C) Online website funded by the Dana Foundation and Hewlett Foundation.
Type of Material:
A visual touch screen interactive 3D app allows for searching the structures and functions of 29 different brain structures. Structures are highlighted when selected and then easily rotated so multiple views are possible.
Students who would like a tutor to learn and/or test themselves regarding their appreciation for brain structures and function would find this material useful for studying and understanding the brain. The app could be used similar to a flash card system whereby one selects a structure and tries to guess its name and/or function. Likewise, one could also select a name and try to identify the structure and location.
This app is designed to be used with the Apple iOS (5.0 or later) on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It also has Android and Windows phone versions. Finally, a web version is available on the Genes to Cognition website (http://www.g2conline.org).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
This app is a tutorial/demonstration tool for learning about brain structures and their respective functions. It also is useful for appreciating the consequences of "brain injury" and its subsequent effects on cognition and behavior. Specific research studies are cited with associated links provided.
Target Student Population:
Typical use would be beneficial to undergraduates or beginning students in physiological psychology or anyone wanting to become more familiar with the connection between brain structures and both physical and cognitive behaviors.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisites are necessary. There appear to be no obvious limitations or requirements except interest and perhaps ability to speak English specifically for the written descriptions. However, the visuals speak for themselves and are easy enough to use that high school or advanced secondary students could learn from this material.
Evaluation and Observation
• This site introduces 29 interactive structures that can be rotated while exploring a variety of functions, disorders, brain damage, case studies and links to contemporary research. Each rotating Brain Structure is associated with the following: 1) Overview 2) Case Study 3) Associated Functions 4) Cognitive Disorders when Damaged 5) Research Reviews 6) Associated Links.
• The app's descriptions and labels appear to be current.
• This is excellent content via a free app that can easily assist students' learning of brain structures and their respective functions.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
• The material is excellent for either an introduction or a review.
• It is useful for training and teaching about brain structures in class as well as useful as a home tutor and practice tool.
• A reviewer who uses this app in class noted that it would be useful if the app incorporated an interactive quiz or “question and answer” spot.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• The app is colorful, easy to use, and quite responsive. It operates quickly and efficiently.
• As noted under the Technical Requirements section, the 3D Brain can be accessed using a variety of devices and versions. In addition to access via Apple products (iPhone, iPAD, iPOD Touch), the 3D Brain also has an Android version (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.dnalc.threedbrain&hl=en) and Windows Phone version (http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/3d-brain/0bebdd4a-8c2d-e011-854c-00237de2db9e), available in the respective app stores. Additionally, the 3D Brain has a web version on the Genes to Cognition website (http://www.g2conline.org).
Other Issues and Comments:
The 3D Brain App is one of the best apps available for teaching what for many is a complicated area to understand and appreciate. The visual 3D brain rotational aspect allows for quick and easy identification and understanding of associated functions.