Anyone studying anatomy uses various resources, from textbooks to anatomy models. There are also mobile apps which become more and more popular in the recent years as they're convenient to use on the go.
Last year, we compiled a list of the best mobile apps for learning anatomy. Most of the apps in the list, as well as many of the apps we didn't mention there, cover the full body anatomy.
Some of the anatomy apps, however, focus on particular organs and systems, such as Heart Illustrated app we recently reviewed.
Brain Tutor 3D app we review today is similar, meaning it focuses on the anatomy of a single, amazing organ that controls all functions of the body and interprets information from the outside world – our brain.
The app was created to allow medical students, as well as more seasoned clinicians, learn about the structure and function of the human brain with the help of high-resolution interactive 3D models of brain and head, as well as MRI scans.
These rendered models, as well as fiber tracts, were created by analyzing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, allowing for the users to look inside the head and brain at millimeter resolution and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the location of brain areas and fiber tracts that may be difficult to achieve when learning from textbooks.
Brain Tutor 3D app provides information which is divided into 4 major parcellation schemes (atlases) of the cerebral cortex, including Lobes, Gyri, Sulci, and Brodmann Areas, which are available for free upon download.
There is also one more paid atlas that explains functional areas, including subcortical structures, functional areas, and major fiber tracts, which can be purchased separately.
Each atlas contains numerous structures, which when selected open the 3D brain model with highlighted corresponding areas.
Each structure also includes an Info icon which, when tapped on, loads the textual information in a bulleted format, including a description of a particular structure, nomenclature, location, function, and connectivity. However, the app doesn't reference the resource used for the information.
Models of the brain are computer-generated, as well as provided by MRI imaging in the form of a rotatable 3D head model. Users can select coronal, transverse and sagittal views.
Using the app is very simple, although the app initially shows enlarged (zoomed in) models that extend outside the screen, which may confuse the users until they figure out how to manipulate the models. It would be better if there are smaller models shown at the first use.
Once the brain model is opened, users can use following gestures: pan with one finger to rotate a brain model, pan with two fingers to move a brain model or use a pinch gesture to zoom in/out a brain model.
Users can choose to view only the left or right hemisphere, or both hemispheres, which show a 3D model of the brain with corresponding areas highlighted.
There is also a head model that users can select to view MRI image of the brain located inside 3D model of the head. If the head model is selected, the additional five icons will appear in the top bar, including three slicing direction icons and two icons for switching between view navigation and head slicing mode.
Slicing direction icons allow users to switch between three views, including coronal, transverse and sagittal. View navigation mode allows users to rotate the model using the finger gestures, while in the head slicing mode users can pan with one finger (left/right or up/down) to change the slicing plane of the head model.
The 3D models look good even on smaller screens. If you rotate your device in a landscape orientation, the textual information and 3D model are shown simultaneously in a split view.
As said before, the usage of the atlases showing subcortical structures, functional (fMRI) areas and fiber tracts require an in-app purchase once per atlas ($0.99 each).
Users can also purchase a paid version of the app called Brain Tutor HD for $2.99 to unlock the additional content.
For example, if purchased, the fiber tracts atlas allows users to view the transparent brain models to allow viewing the selected fiber tracts inside the brain. The app uses a color-coded system to show pieces of the fibers of the same tract, or with respect to their orientation within the head.
Overall, Brain Tutor 3D is a very useful app both for medical students learning neuroanatomy and for neurologists who can use the app to explain various conditions to their patients at the bedside.
The app uses 3D interactive models of brain and head, as well as MRI scans, which are high-quality and easy to use.
Benefit: The app is perfect for medical students, as well as experienced clinicians, such as neurologists