Nowinski WI, Chua BC, Qian G, et al. The Human Brain in 1969 Pieces: Structure, Vasculature, Tracts, Cranial Nerves, and Systems [CD-ROM]. Thieme; 2012; $349.99.
The Human Brain in 1969 pieces by Dr. Nowinski et al. is powerful interactive neuroanatomy atlas that very meticulously details the structure, vasculature, nervous tracts, and cranial nerves of the brain.
The purpose of the authors was to provide a highly detailed, comprehensive, and user-friendly digitally based atlas of the brain. This software is extremely useful to students, residents, fellows, and neuroradiology attendings alike. The atlas runs smoothly in both the PC and MAC environments, with no difference in the presentation or maneuverability between the two operating systems (although some MAC users would disagree!). Installing it only occupies 118MB (about the size of fifteen good quality songs in .wav format) of your hard drive; however, you will need the CD at all times in order to run the software. You can only install the software on two computers at any given time. If you wish to install this software on a third one you would have to deauthorize one of your previous computers.
Once the software is installed, navigating trough the human brain has never been so easy. After reading the intros and foreword, the user is presented with a window that situates the brain within a larger framework. This digital rendition of the human brain, cranial nerves (in the case of CN II you are also presented with the globes), and vasculature (both arterial and venous) is both visually stunning and impressive; as indicated in the foreword, the atlas was constructed from multiple 3T and 7T MRI data using Dr. Nowinski’s brain as the in vivo specimen! The many different structures which comprise the brain are color-coded so that they are easy to discern and to follow. The user has the ability to pan, rotate, or zoom in on the brain, with an additional option to quickly go to six different viewing planes, which include the Anterior, Posterior, Superior, Inferior, Left, and Right views.
A scrollbar to the right of the display window allows the user to overlay an MR image on the digitally rendered brain; the options of rotating, panning, and zooming can be used to aid in this purpose. This potentially allows matching the MRI data of a patient with the database supporting the atlas and vice versa. This is quite useful, as it provides an outstanding basis for stereotactic surgery as well as for research. An option to control the MR-overlay is also found on the top superior aspects of the display window.
On the left side of the display window is a column with several buttons. These include Auto, Reset, Label, Measure, Save Image, Clear, Help, and Quit. One of the most useful buttons is perhaps the Label button; once the user has clicked on this option he/she has but to bring the mouse over the structure of interest to show the name of it onscreen. If the Measure button is selected while navigating over a structure (e.g., a vessel), the structure will be highlighted and its length in millimeters will be shown. Additionally, by double-clicking region a measuring bar will be displayed and the user will determine the measuring endpoints.
Another extremely useful button is the Save Image button. This is a very interesting feature and one that would make any neuroanatomy instructor or lecturer (and his audience) very happy; this button allows the user to save images as he/she is working on the atlas. The images are saved as .tif files and are very visually attractive.
On the right side of the display window there is a stack of four smaller windows labeled Brain, Arteries, Veins, and Tracts. Each of these small windows has additional checkboxes within them that allow the user the ability to remove, add, or highlight different anatomical structures. For example, in the Brain Window the user has the ability to display or remove the cortex, deep nuclei, white matter, cranial nerves (CN), and systems (visual, olfactory, gustatory, etc.). In the Arteries window the user can opt to have all of the cerebral arteries and its branches displayed or he can select just the vessel of interest. Again, all anatomical structures are color-coded, and navigating them is quite easy.
Along the superior aspects of the window there is a row with four boxes. From left to right, each of these boxes is labeled Brain, Arteries, Veins, and Tracts. There are multiple checkboxes within each of these boxes that again give the user the ability to display or remove portions of the brain, regardless if it is a right-sided or a left-sided structure to be removed, or even both.
In summary, this atlas provides an easy and user-friendly access, in an organized and comprehensive manner, to the complex anatomy of the human brain. This is a powerful resource for those who study and learn brain anatomy as well as for those teach it. The portability of having this great resource on a CD makes it into another great tool for learning and teaching neuroanatomy.