There really is an app for everything. 3-D Brain, a program
that allows users to virtually browse an interactive brain, is now available
for free for the iPhone and iTouch.
The application features an intuitive touch screen
interface, allowing users to explore 29 brain regions in detail, including what
they do, what happens when they become diseased or damaged and how they may give
rise to various mental and brain disorders. Rounding out the program are case
studies and extensive links to cutting-edge research.
Although 3-D Brain is geared primarily toward teachers and
students—as reflected by its categorization under “education downloads”—it’s
designed for lay users. Even I, with no background in and very little knowledge
of the brain, found the application really cool. The images of the brain are
fun to play with. You can highlight a section of the brain, and then zoom in on
it for a closer look. Or if you just want to play around, you can use your
fingers to spin the 3-D rendered brain around in both directions! The text is
interesting too and peppered with some interesting facts. Did you know about
Phineas Gage, who in 1848 had a large iron rod go through his skull but lived?
Have you heard of Wernicke’s Area? Me neither.
Since its launch on September 20, 3-D Brain has been the
most highly rated of the top 25 free educational downloads in the Apple App
Store. According to John Connolly, executive producer of the application, it is
being downloaded by about a thousand users a day and growing.
3-D Brain was created by Vivid Apps and AXS Biomedical
Animation Studio for the Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor
Laboratory. Information and data for the application comes from the Genes to Cognition project, which was jointly
funded by the Dana Foundation and Hewlett Foundation. In addition to being
available on the App Store and iTunes, a Web
version is also available.