Using Art to Learn Human Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and physiology are not the easiest subjects, but the learning process can be assisted with the help of art. We retain more information if we write it down, so it makes sense that drawing or coloring will help us learn the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Being able to say what an organ is and being able to point it out in an actual human body are very different experiences. What it is, what it does, how blood flows through it, where it is, and what it is connected to are fundamental to understanding how the human body works. One of my favorite tools is a human anatomy coloring book.
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When learning how to draw the human figure, we consulted anatomy books to accurately portray the human form. The ability to use anatomy in an artistic piece can really make a difference. Anatomical body painting has allowed us to design disturbingly realistic tattoos that look like muscle is exposed. Applicable possibilities include special effects and costumes that can seem gruesomely real. To create that effect, an understanding of anatomy is key.

In an actual corpse the muscles, veins, and organs are not as easy to decipher as a coloring book or picture from an anatomy book. There is no substitute for the real thing when it comes to the human body because of variation and disease, but artistic renditions can help students visualize anatomy before they get to the laboratory. Anyone that has studied anatomy and physiology knows how complex the human body is, and veterinary students need to learn it across species.
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There is an opportunity to see human anatomy at an event in the U.S. called “Bodies: The Exhibition“. These are real human bodies that have been preserved using a polymer so that they can be used for education. Certain health issues are highlighted in the exhibition such as cancer, ectopic pregnancy, osteoporosis, and cirrhosis of the liver. Not only is this exhibition a great learning experience for medical students, but artists as well.

Another great way to learn human anatomy is by using flashcards that have been artistically designed so that they components are easier to decipher.

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