The human brain is an incredibly complex 3D structure that is difficult to comprehend using only 2D images. However, visualizing the 3D structures of brain components and their spatial relationships is critical for understanding brain function and diagnosing neurological disorders. Students in Erika Fanselow’s neuroanatomy course tackle this by designing 3D models of multiple related brain structures based on measurements made from 2D images such as brain scans. In conjunction with Pitt’s Open Lab, students use web-based modeling software to develop and print their models. This project facilitates students’ conceptualization of brain structures and allows them to teach their peers.
The creative seed was planted about a year ago when Dr. Jacques Bromberg, assistant professor in the Department of Classics, read a story about an emerging innovative technology offered by the Teaching Center: virtual reality [VR]. It sparked immediate enthusiasm in Dr. Bromberg — as faculty director of the Pitt in Sicily program, he saw a fantastic opportunity to use VR technology in the study abroad program. But how? Pitt in Sicily is designed for students interested in the history and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean. The class, consisting of about 15 undergraduate students, focuses on “Greek Archaeology through exploration of archaeological locations,” according to Dr. Bromberg. With so many picturesque settings to capture, one particular technology in the VR toolkit proved to be a perfect match for Dr. Bromberg’s needs: 360-degree video.