A Load Off One's Mind: Applying Instructional Design Principles to Simplify Learning in an Interactive Neuroanatomy Atlas

Master's Research Project 

Created: January - April 2016

Purpose: Create an interactive neuroanatomy atlas prototype to demonstrate ideas on how to reduce cognitive load when learning gross anatomy. 

Project Duties: Develop timeline; design wireframes and sitemap; make design decisions based on educational psychology research; decide on color scheme, UX/UI design; sculpt and paint 3D assets in ZBrush; produce UV maps, normal maps, and texture maps; compile assets and program interactivity in Unity3D using C# programming language; write custom shader for Unity3D in HLSL

Programs Used:




ZBrush, MODO, Unity3D, SublimeText  (Also: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for planning and design)

 Students encountering neuroanatomy for the first time often find themselves overwhelmed and unsure where to start—a hallmark of high cognitive load. Even with the advent of interactive models for study, it can be difficult to track structures and relationships when spinning a 3D object on a screen. This research study will attempt to pursue this claim, and to address some of the limitations that have been found with 3D anatomy apps. This will be accomplished by applying principles of cognitive theories of learning, as well as principles that govern the fields of user interface and user experience (UI/UX) design.