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Molly (senior illustrator) blogs for Dalhousie's FOCUS: “Art in the Sciences”

Visual art has a long history in research and teaching of science and medicine. Artistic renditions are key in the study of anatomy and, before the advent of photography, this usually involved hand-drawing specimens. With the growth of readily accessible digital photography, the necessity for hand-drawn images has declined, and some educators argue that this may be contributing to “visual illiteracy.” Visual education is not emphasized beyond early school years and is routinely neglected in text-heavy, university science curricula (Kędra, J. & Žakevičiūtė, 2019). We believe that this is a missed opportunity in neuroscience education, since research shows that student-generated drawings are an excellent way to assess understanding of neuronal anatomy and physiology (Hay et al., 2013; Slominski et al., 2017). By emphasizing creativity through different artistic representations of neurons and encouraging the students to create their own drawings, we have introduced activities to engage our students in visual learning.


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