By: Bill Yates, MD

Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review is to inform medical professionals and students of the content of the 3D Brain medical app. This review will allow readers to determine if this tool may be helpful to them and the patients they see in practice.


President Obama recently announced funding for the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative. This initiative highlights an increased focus on brain research and an increased need for basic brain science education. Here, we’ll look at whether 3D Brain fills that role.

Understanding basic neuroanatomy is a key component of brain science. I have used 3D Brain, developed by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, for several years and I think it is a good basic neuroanatomy tool.

User Interface

3D Brain opens with a window that allows the user to open one of 29 brain structure regions. The regions covered by the app include cortical as well as subcortical brain structures.


Selecting the frontal lobe brain region brings up an image with frontal lobe regions highlighted.


A label function in 3D Brain provides the option of adding labels to the image. Here is a labeled view of the basal ganglia.


3D Brain allows for manipulation of the image in the vertical and horizontal planes. Here is an image of the brain ganglia with manipulation.


One nice feature of this app is an information function that opens a brief discussion of the specific brain region. The information feature includes an overview, a case study, a list of associated functions, associated cognitive disorders, effects of brain damage in the region, and a few selected research review references.


Evidence to support use

  • 3D Brain is a medical app receiving development support from the Dana Foundation. The Dana Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports brain education beginning with programs for elementary level students. Developed along with the highly-acclaimed Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, these agencies produce high-quality products for consumers.


  • Free


  • Ease of use
  • 3D manipulation of brain images
  • Link to information about selected brain regions


  • Lack of brain white matter structures
  • No update since April 2010
  • No internal export function (images can be saved to a camera roll for export via email)
  • Loss of labels with 3D manipulation

Healthcare providers benefiting from the app

  • The target audience for 3D Brain would include high school and college students studying anatomy. It is also a useful tool for nursing and medical students. Physicians treating brain disorders might find this medical app useful for patient education purposes. I have used screen shots from 3D Brain in my personal blog to produce images to aid understanding of neuroscience research manuscripts.

Patients that may benefit from the app

  • Patients may benefit from this medical app for basic anatomical education about brain regions that might be affected by tumors or trauma.


  • 3D Brain is a versatile brain anatomy medical app that can be used for health professional education, brain image figure production and to teach patients about brain regions that might be impaired by illness or trauma.

Android version of the app

  • An Android version of the app is available in the Google Play store

iMedicalApps recommended

  • Yes

iTunes Link

Rating-4 stars


This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.