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Anat Sci Educ. 2019 Jan 31. doi: 10.1002/ase.1866. [Epub ahead of print]

Neuroanatomy, the Achille's Heel of Medical Students. A Systematic Analysis of Educational Strategies for the Teaching of Neuroanatomy.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy.
Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.


Neuroanatomy has been deemed crucial for clinical neurosciences. It has been one of the most challenging parts of the anatomical curriculum and is one of the causes of "neurophobia," whose main implication is a negative influence on the choice of neurology in the near future. In the last decades, several educational strategies have been identified to improve the skills of students and to promote a deep learning. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature to identify the most effective method/s to teach human neuroanatomy. The search was restricted to publications written in English language and to articles describing teaching tools in undergraduate medical courses from January 2006 through December 2017. The primary outcome was the observation of improvement of anatomical knowledge in undergraduate medical students. Secondary outcomes were the amelioration of long-term retention knowledge and the grade of satisfaction of students. Among 18 selected studies, 44.4% have used three-dimensional (3D) teaching tools, 16.6% near peer teaching tool, 5.55% flipped classroom tool, 5.55% applied neuroanatomy elective course, 5.55% equivalence-based instruction-rote learning, 5.55% mobile augmented reality, 5.55% inquiry-based clinical case, 5.55% cadaver dissection, and 5.55% Twitter. The high in-between study heterogeneity was the main issue to identify the most helpful teaching tool to improve neuroanatomical knowledge among medical students. Data from this study suggest that a combination of multiple pedagogical resources seems to be the more advantageous for teaching neuroanatomy.


knowledge retention; learning; medical education; medical students; neuroanatomy education; neuroscience; students satisfaction; teaching; undergraduate education


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