Human Anatomy

Human Anatomy

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  • J Med Libr Assoc
  • v.101(2); 2013 Apr
  • PMC3634386
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J Med Libr Assoc. 2013 Apr; 101(2): 163–164.
doi:  10.3163/1536-5050.101.2.018
PMCID: PMC3634386

Anatomy & Physiology Online

Reviewed by Bette S. Sydelko , MSLS, MEd, AHIP

Primal Pictures. 4th Floor Tennyson House, 159–165 Great Portland Street,
 London W1W 5PA, United Kingdom,
 +; Technical requirements: Internet browsers: Internet Explorer7+, Firefox 3.5+, Safari 4+, Google Chrome 4+; operating system: PC: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7; Mac: OSX 10.3–10.6; processor speed: 1.5 GHz with 512 MB RAM; 200MB free disk space for all platforms; minimum screen resolution: 1152×864. Price:
 $99.00. yearly student subscription rate includes all modules; institutional pricing is available upon request.

Email: [email protected] , University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer
Copyright : © 2013, Authors.


This review focuses on Primal Pictures’ award-winning, Internet-based product called Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) Online. Over the years, various products from Primal Pictures have been reviewed in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA), with the July 2012 review of Anatomy.TV being the most recent. Primal Pictures was established in 1991 and recently received the “Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2012.” In September 2011, A&P Online was awarded first prize in the Digital and Online Resources category by the British Medical Association (BMA). The company started with the sole purpose of producing a three-dimensional (3D) model of the anatomy of the human body that was as accurate as possible. They have achieved that goal and continue to use their medical and graphical expertise to create numerous educational resources aimed at providing an active learning environment for students, educators, and health professionals. Given the current academic climate shift from lecture-based teaching to more interactive student-centered learning, A&P Online can serve either as the primary information resource or as a supplement for an anatomy and physiology class. Both options enhance the student’s learning experience through interactive engagement with the content. Users of Primal Pictures content continue to increase, with the company reporting over 500,000 students at more than 700 colleges worldwide benefiting from their highly interactive resources.

Major features

A&P Online introduces users to human anatomy and physiology by structuring the content in a modular format. This format allows users to pick and choose the modules in an order that works best for them. Currently, nineteen modules are available. Some of the modules are system based, for example, integumentary, cardiovascular, digestive, or endocrine system. Other modules include histology, cell biology, chemistry, fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance, blood, or metabolism. Each module is presented using the same basic framework, thus making navigation straightforward and easy to remember. The modules all have these major components: left navigation bar listing the topics covered in the module; a section labeled “what you need to know” displaying the learning objectives for the module; the main image viewing window for 3D views, narrated animations, and slides; and lastly, a section containing the anatomy and physiology textual content for each topic.

The most important feature of A&P Online is the ability to view anatomy in 3D as well as in “layers.” This functionality is key to all Primal Pictures products. Options in the viewing window allow learners to rotate images, remove or add anatomy to and from any image (the layers), and mouse over individual parts to learn vocabulary. Other features include audio pronunciations of anatomical features that can be accessed from an index. In addition to the above features, there are self-assessment options in the form of quizzes both for individual topics and for a module as a whole. Answers can be viewed immediately or at the end of a quiz. “Lab” activities, like labeling exercises or coloring pages, have also been developed to enrich the learning experience. To make each module more relevant to real life and to bring the content into a clinical realm, special sections are devoted to relation of module content to aging and to illustration of the concepts as they relate to specific diseases. Case studies help learners associate content with patient scenarios by responding to a series of questions with readily available explanations. Features one comes to expect in any online resource are available and include a search engine that will search within a module or across modules, helpful help files, an index for each module, downloadable or printable portable document format (PDF) files of content, and the ability to use content for educational purposes.

Use of images

Educational (noncommercial) use of the images in A&P Online is royalty free, allowing use in electronic presentations, lectures, and patient education. Images may not be used in the public and commercial domains without permission.


Primal Pictures’ A&P Online is clearly structured, very well organized, and quite intuitive. It allows users to have control over their own pace and learning abilities. All learning styles are accommodated by the diversity with which the content is presented, be it visual, auditory, or textual. All of the expected and important user features are available: an index, searchable content, help files, clear navigation, and similar layout from module to module. Students and faculty in any field where human anatomy and physiology is foundational knowledge can use this resource with confidence that the information provided is authoritative and reliable, given the list of contributors from both the United Kingdom and the United States of America. These contributors come from various backgrounds including nursing, biology, physiology, and anatomy and represent educational arenas from community colleges to research universities. There is no doubt that Primal Pictures has produced an award-winning product.

Articles from Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA are provided here courtesy of Medical Library Association


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