Brain research is yielding novel insights and detailed understanding of brain circuitry and neurochemistry. Students in medical, psychological, and biological disciplines need an understanding of neurobiology and recent advances to develop their understanding of the brain’s anatomy, functioning, and disease states. However, developing a mental map of the brain’s complex network of structures and neural pathways is challenging. Our 3D brain model provides an immersive and interactive experience in VR that helps students in these disciplines develop a robust understanding of complex spatial relations, connections, and neurochemistry.
We have built an early version of the VR brain exploration experience, allowing the user to navigate within the brain itself. The rendering can be navigated freely, which allows the user to examine the subcomponents of the brain individually. Labels can be enabled in order to teach the names of anatomical structures to gain a deeper understanding of the structures and their positions in this complex organ. Alternatively, the learner can follow lessons in which they learn brain structures involved in particular functions, as well as connections between those structures and the neurotransmitters involved.
Where We’re Going Next
We envision that VR Brain Exploration will be sold as a digital therapeutic, targeting providers who want to utilize the product as an educational tool in conjunction with another intervention (e.g., addiction treatment, obesity treatment with centrally-acting medications, etc). This source of revenue will support any ongoing work needed to refine the product and allow free use for the public through their providers. Future expansion for other populations is also possible (e.g., a neuroscientist who wants to show a new pathway they are investigating, a biology teacher who wants to teach neuroanatomy and brain pathways in a more efficient way, etc.) We look forward to developing VR Brain Exploration to expand knowledge of the brain and its functions for everyone.