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.
Image courtesy Dolan DNA Learning Center
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.