Creation of QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) Object Movies for the Study of Human Brain Anatomy

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Conference Proceeding

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The study of gross brain anatomy is a fundamental first step in the process of learning clinical neuroscience. A common approach to this task is to use of a combination of (1) whole brain specimens to study surface anatomy, (2) brain slices to study internal structure, and (3) brain dissections to examine the three-dimensionality of important structures such as the internal capsule and limbic system. This process traditionally occurs in the teaching laboratory where flat images from text or CD-ROM atlases serve as reference sources. This approach limits the students' 3-D object exposure to within the laboratory setting, and the flat atlas images provide limited views of the often complex neural structures. We propose that this learning process could be made more effective using virtual neurologic specimens that can be reviewed from unlimited angles by individual students in any learning situation. Consequently, we set out to create QTVR object movies of the human brain and distribute them from an Internet server for ubiquitous use throughout the educational environment.

Human brains were removed from donors and formalin fixed. The specimens were dissected as needed; mounted on a QTVR object rig and horizontal and/or vertical pan sequences were digitally photographed. Other brains were sectioned into 3-10 mm slices, which were photographed to make additional object movie sequences. Photo sequences were processed to make QTVR movies, resulting in either spinning 3D specimens or navigable sectional specimens. Where examination of image detail was important, photo sequences were processed into "Zoomify" streaming object movies. These movies provided a practical means of delivering very high-resolution images over the Internet. Brain QTVR movies are available on our web site <>.


Presented at the 2002 Slice of Life Workshop, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.