An edited version of my Friday Evening Discouse given to the Royal Institution on 11 April 2008.
Abstract: The vagus nerves (cranial nerve X) connects our brainstem to the body, facilitating monitoring and control of many automatic functions; the vagus electrically links our gut, lungs and heart to the base of the brain in an evolutionarily-ancient circuit, similar between mammals and also seen in birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The vagus comprises a major part of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system, contributing to the motor control of important physiological functions such as heart rate and gut motility. The vagus is also sensory, relaying protective visceral information leading to reflexes like cough and indication of lung volume. The vagus has been described as a neural component of the immune reflex. By monitoring changes in the level of control exerted by the vagus, apparent as beat by beat changes of heart rate, it is possible to indirectly view the effect of pharmaceuticals and disease on brainstem function and neural processes underlying consciousness. The paired vagus nerves of humans have different functions, and stimulation of the left vagus has been shown to be a therapeutic treatment for epilepsy, and may modulate the perception of pain.
The “Arterial Schematic” represents the intricate three-dimensional human arterial system in a highly simplified two-dimensional design reminiscent of the London Underground Map. Each “line” represents an artery within the body; a black circle marks a major vessel, whilst “stubs” stemming from the main lines represent the distal vasculature. The coloured “zones” represent the main divisions of the human body, for example; the yellow zone indicates the neck.
The schematic was inspired by Henry Beck’s work on the first diagrammatic London Underground Map. His aim was to represent complex geographical distribution in a simple and accessible form. He achieved this aim by omitting swathes of information that had plagued previous designers’ versions. Beck’s approach was succinct yet produced a design that was immediately successful in clearly portraying to commuters how to traverse London most efficiently. The “Arterial Schematic” hopes to culminate this idea of communicating complex concepts in a concise manner, mirroring what is expected of medical professionals on a daily basis.
The schematic is a prototype design intended to be part of a series of images that will diagrammatically represent the various systems of the human body. The prototype was inspired by a desire to teach anatomy via a fresh and engaging visual medium. Recent years have seen significant debate over reduced undergraduate anatomy teaching and its later consequences. The hope is that the “Arterial Schematic” and its sister diagrams will inspire students to learn anatomy and encourage them to further their knowledge via other sources.
PLEASE NOTE: This image is available for purchase in print, please contact email@example.com if interested. Please follow LFarmery on Twitter and considering sharing the Arterial Schematic on Facebook etc. Many Thanks.
This is a teaching resource that aids the student in memorisation of the Cranial Nerves, their anatomical path and function.
Additionally, it stimulates a clinical approach to the functions of the Cranial Nerves, with some 'not to be missed' signs.
Please note the Brachial Schematic is available in print, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested and consider sharing the Brachial Schematic on Facebook etc. Many thanks.
The Brachial Schematic is a 2-d visual representation of the Brachial Plexus. The Brachial Plexus is a network of nerves that supplies the upper limb. The illustration was inspired by the work of Henry Beck on the London Underground Map and also by the numerous illustrations already depicting the Brachial Plexus. This image is related to my Arterial Schematic and whilst that image has had far more success, it is hard to say which one of these images came first.
I am particularly proud of the fact that the Brachial Plexus will be appearing in an adapted form in Edition 9 of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialities.
The skull has numerous holes (foramina) through which various cranial nerves, arteries, veins and other structures pass. To aid learning of these important foramina, I have created this visual mnemonic.
The Middle ear has a plethora of structures within and surrounding it. To aid learning of these important structures, I have created this visual mnemonic.
Note: The view is seen from the Right Lateral Wall (i.e. Tympanic membrane removed to see middle ear interior).
There are various triangles of the neck, largely divided by the sternocleidomastoid muscle to form anterior and posterior triangles. Some triangles are more 'important' that others, and this simplified visual mnemonic hopes to emphasises this.
The Pharyngeal apparatus refers to the development and function of the clefts, arches and pouches which contribute to form the major components of the head and neck. Understanding the derivatives of the clefts, arches & pouches is initially time-consuming, however it lays a strong foundation to understand the clinical relevance thereafter.
Hopefully this visual mnemonic will allow you to memorise all the derivatives of the pharyngeal apparatus with ease.
The process of neurulation drives development of the system we use to help understand and interact with the world around us. Sometimes this process might stray from its chosen path due to internal/external factors, leading to unusual pathologies. Understanding neurulation can help us work out how things go wrong.