• Gross anatomy;
  • three-dimensional;
  • stereoscopic views;
  • interactivity;
  • medical education;
  • computer-assited learning;
  • undergraduate medical teaching


Advances in computer and interface technologies have made it possible to create three-dimensional (3D) computerized models of anatomical structures for visualization, manipulation, and interaction in a virtual 3D environment. In the past few decades, a multitude of digital models have been developed to facilitate complex spatial learning of the human body. However, there is limited empirical evidence to guide the development and integration of effective computer models for teaching and learning. The purpose of this article is to describe the development of a dynamic head and neck model with flexible displays (2D, 3D, and stereoscopic 3D) and interactive control features that can be later used to design and test the efficacy of computer models as a means of improving student learning. The model was created using computer tomography scans of a human cadaver. Anatomical structures captured on the scans were segmented into discreet areas, and then reconstructed in three-dimensions using specialized software. The final model consists of 70 distinct anatomical structures that can be displayed in 2D, 3D, or stereoscopic 3D. In 3D mode, a mouse can be used to actively and continuously interact with the model by manipulating viewer orientation, altering surface transparency, superimposing 2D scans with 3D reconstructions, removing or adding structures sequentially, and customizing animated scenes to show complex anatomical pathways or relationships. Anat Sci Educ 2: 294–301, 2009. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists.