Morphology of Memory: Creating a Web-Based 3D Interactive Resource to Teach the Anatomy of the Human Hippocampus


Abstract The hippocampus is a critical region of the brain involved in memory and learning. It has been widely researched in animals and humans due to its role in consolidating new experiences into long-term declarative memories and its vulnerability in neurodegenerative diseases. The hippocampus is a complex, curved structure containing many interconnected regions that consist of distinct cell types. Despite the importance of understanding the normal state of hippocampal anatomy for studying its functions and the disease processes that affect it, didactic educational resources are severely limited. The literature on the hippocampus is expansive and detailed, but a communication gap exists between researchers presenting hippocampal data and those seeking to improve their understanding of this part of the brain.


The hippocampus is typically viewed in a two-dimensional fashion; students and scientists have difficulty visualizing its three-dimensional anatomy and its structural relationships in space. To improve understanding of the hippocampus, an interactive, web-based educational resource was created containing a pre-rendered 3D animation and manipulatable 3D models of hippocampal regions. Segmentations of magnetic resonance imaging data were modified and sculpted to build idealized anatomical models suitable for teaching purposes. These models were animated in combination with illustrations and narration to introduce the viewer to the subject, and the completed animation was uploaded online and embedded into the interactive. A separate section of the interactive allows the user to rotate the models, hide and show different regions, and access additional explanatory text. The user interface and interactivity were coded to allow exploration of hippocampal regions and navigation between sections of the resource. The resources developed in this project provide a didactic and accessible visualization for graduate students, researchers, clinicians, and other individuals involved in neuroscience. The animation and interactive models allow users to reinforce their understanding of 3D hippocampal anatomy and connectivity. By improving visual understanding of the hippocampus, this project aims to advance the communication and scientific study of hippocampus-related topics, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.


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This Vesalius Trust research poster was presented at the 2019 Association of Medical Illustrators' Annual Meeting held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This poster was awarded a First Place in the Vesalius Trust's research poster competition.




1. Duvernoy H, Cattin F, Risold P-Y. The Human Hippocampus: Functional Anatomy, Vascularization and Serial Sections with MRI. Springer, Heidelberg; 2013.


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