Learning the names and locations of the different parts of the brain is a task that has brought grief to generations of students.
I myself didn’t know my caudate from my cingulate cortex all through my undergraduate studies and the first year of my doctorate. I only cracked it after spending a couple of days in the library, surrounded by a stack of anatomy textbooks, copying diagrams and coloring them in over and over until I could do it from memory.
Now a group of Australian physiologists say there’s a better way – Showercap Mindmap: a spatial activity for learning physiology terminology and location
Undergraduate students were split into groups of 3 or 4 and each team was given a pack:
Showercap Mindmap packs included a clear, unmarked plastic shower cap, a whiteboard marker, and 15 sticky, color-coded labels.
Lobe labels were blue (occipital, temporal, parietal, and frontal).
Specialist areas were green (the corpus callosum, Broca’s area, and Wernicke’s area).
Labels relating to information processing were yellow (hearing; heat; pain and temperature; and interpretation and integration of information).
Cortex labels were orange (motor, association, somatosensory, auditory, and visual).
One student on each team wore the cap and the others had 10 minutes to attach the labels to the correct parts of their head, corresponding to the different brain areas, with the help of a neuroanatomy textbook.
This strikes me as a fantastic idea, and something that could actually make learning neuroanatomy fun, or at least a bit more involving than it usually is. The authors of the paper say that students using the method learned more effectively than those using a more conventional approach.
Even the cap-wearers benefited. They couldn’t see the labels being placed, but they could feel them.
Vanags T, Budimlic M, Herbert E, Montgomery MM, and Vickers T (2012). Showercap Mindmap: a spatial activity for learning physiology terminology and location. Advances in physiology education, 36 (2), 125-30 PMID: 22665427