3D Brain: iOS iPhone/iPod/iPad (free); Android (free); Windows Phone (free)
If you’re like me at all, you’re at least a little interested in the new things we’re learning every day about the interaction between brain structure, brain function, and mental health issues. In addition to the cool factor, though, I occasionally find that an explanation of brain structures that are involved in various mental health issues can be very helpful in de-stigmatizing some disorders. For example, discussion of biological differences in the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain has helped me re-frame ADHD for some parents who think that their child is just “bad.” Those of us who remain relatively familiar with the brain can easily forget that most people have no idea what we’re talking about when we say “cingulate gyrus.” This leaves you with the choices of:
a) pointing at your head
b) using some sort of visual aid
The 3d Brain app is actually a port of the same map of the brain that is available at the developer’s website (http://www.g2conline.org/2022). It contains 29 maps (on iOS and Android) highlighting different brain structures. It also has a short description of the structure, a case study highlighting a piece of research about the structure, main functions of the structure, effects of damage, and disorders associated with that portion of the brain. Of course, there is also the diagram itself, which can be rotated on vertical and horizontal axes (only horizontal on Android). There is also a label button, which will label all colored structures in the image; note that many labeled substructures do not themselves have an explanation. Still, it’s a good lay description and illustration of portions of the brain that might be associated with some disorders.
There are no specific issues regarding data security for this app – it keeps no data.
The app UI on both iOS and Android are pretty straightforward – menus to select a portion of the brain, and clearly marked areas of the screen to get text info or color-coded labels. The iOS app hasn’t been updated for some time (since 2010), and this is notable for a field that seems to change almost daily. The Windows Phone app was released in 2011, and the Android app in early 2012. The references and information appear to be similar across iOS and Android. I did not perform an exhaustive search on the references included in the description of each area. I would have liked to be able to access a complete reference list from the app, in case I wanted to read any of the literature that they cite. There are also a few typos in the text here and there (e.g., “frontals lobes”).
Content – 4/5 – information is easy to understand and fairly thorough; it’s unclear how often the research cited in the app will be updated (if ever).
UI – 5/5 – easy to navigate and accessing information is fairly intuitive. diagrams are excellent.
** Disclaimer: While some of these apps may be helpful to you, NOTHING that I review is a replacement for therapy services from a qualified, licensed psychotherapist. If you are reading this because you or someone you care for needs it for mental health reasons, get them live help ASAP. Also, if you haven’t yet, read A Few Words on Security, which contains tips on keeping your and your client’s smartphone data safe from unwanted eyes.