DURHAM, N.C. -- Imagine how much easier learning the intricate structures of the brain would be if only you could carry one around with you to study -- a truly remarkable brain that you could slice, Aunslice@ and even reslice in another plane to explore its complex anatomy. And what if you could even pick from a list of brain structures -- ranging from the abducens nerve to white matter -- and instruct your portable brain to highlight the structure in vivid color amidst its otherwise undifferentiated beige tissue?
Duke medical students enjoyed just such a capability for the first time this year, thanks to a new neuroanatomy teaching program called Sylvius: Fundamentals of Human Neural Structure.
Developed by neurobiologist S. Mark Williams with support from the department of neurobiology and the medical school, Sylvius was provided on CD-ROM to medical students taking introductory neuroscience. The program was designed as an electronic adjunct to the textbook Neuroscience (Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass., 1997), edited by neurobiology department chairman Dale Purves and faculty members George Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, Lawrence Katz, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia and James McNamara.
Duke medical students have given the new program high praise on feedback forms, using such terms as "very cool," "fantastic," "extremely helpful," and "absolutely wonderful program." One student commented that Sylvius was "Very helpful in obtaining a visual representation of the three-dimensional structure of brain structures. Don't know how I'd do it without the Sylvius program."
Williams named Sylvius for two renowned Renaissance anatomists who believed in
learning body structures by careful dissection. And dissection is precisely what
Williams had to do in order to produce the images for the Sylvius program.
"Using a human brain specimen from our teaching lab collection, I sectioned it
in one plane and had digital photographs made of each section. Then f
Contact: Dennis Meredith