Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pinky and the Brain

Have you ever seen the Pinky and the Brain cartoon? Here's a crazy video clip from the show sent to me by one of my favorite textbook editors, Karen Turner over at Elsevier (Mosby). It features a musical tour through the brain.

[Here's an easter egg in Anatomy & Physiology 7th ed. . . . Karen Turner's photo is on p. 55]

Although this clip is funny and includes a lot of "real" anatomy terms and structures, it's not very useful in understanding brain anatomy in an organized way . . . it's just a jumble of random structures, jumping all around and from microscopic to macroscopic and back again. But it IS entertaining!

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So why share it with you?

First, because . . . well . . . it IS entertaining.

Second, it gives me the opportunity to bring up (once again) the value of silly songs as a learning tool.

Remember my previous article Pump your blood, which featured a silly song about blood flow through the systemic and pulmonary circulation? That one was effective because it put all the essential facts together in a way that makes sense (unlike the Pinky and the Brain clip). Such songs teach not only the facts . . . but also (and this is important) how the facts fit together.

Silly songs can also be useful as mnemonic devices to remember the anatomical order of structures in the body or the members of a group of structures in the body (see Sad Pucker).

Third, I'm sharing this video because even though this clip is "not very useful" in learning A&P, it is still "somewhat useful." It does show structures visually while at the same time stating the names . . . which will probably help remember where they are and what they look like.

But one must alway be careful with this sort of thing (media not really intended to be strictly educational) because there may be unintentional errors or misleading usages embedded in them. Looking for, finding, and correcting such errors can in itself be a learning experience.

For example, the clip contains several eponyms (terms that include someone's name). We learned in last week's article International standards for anatomy terminology that eponyms are "old fashioned." So the clip isn't really wrong in this regard . . . it's just not up to date.

Also, near the end of the clip the term "medulla oblongata" is sung but the entire brainstem and part of the diencephalon is illustrated--not just the medulla oblongata. Ooops. There are probably several more of these that I didn't catch on casual viewing.

Of course, these mistakes only support my previously mentioned hypothesis, summarized here:

Dr. Patton's Theory of Media Science (Dr. P's TMS) . . .which I just made up after years of mulling it over . . . and shouting it to my television screen . . . states that

"biological accuracy of a science-based fictional media production is inverse to the total budget for special effects in the production. "
Do you have other silly songs or video clips to share (accurate or not)?

Then share them with us by "commenting" on this article!

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