Understanding neurophobia: Reasons behind impaired understanding and learning of neuroanatomy in cross-disciplinary healthcare students
Javaid MA., Chakraborty S., Cryan JF., Schellekens H., Toulouse A.
© 2017 American Association of Anatomists Recent studies have highlighted a fear or difficulty with the study and understanding of neuroanatomy among medical and healthcare students. This has been linked with a diminished confidence of clinical practitioners and students to manage patients with neurological conditions. The underlying reasons for this difficulty have been queried among a broad cohort of medical, dental, occupational therapy, and speech and language sciences students. Direct evidence of the students’ perception regarding specific difficulties associated with learning neuroanatomy has been provided and some of the measures required to address these issues have been identified. Neuroanatomy is perceived as a more difficult subject compared to other anatomy topics (e.g., reproductive/pelvic anatomy) and not all components of the neuroanatomy curriculum are viewed as equally challenging. The difficulty in understanding neuroanatomical concepts is linked to intrinsic factors such as the inherent complex nature of the topic rather than outside influences (e.g., lecture duration). Participants reporting high levels of interest in the subject reported higher levels of knowledge, suggesting that teaching tools aimed at increasing interest, such as case-based scenarios, could facilitate acquisition of knowledge. Newer pedagogies, including web-resources and computer assisted learning (CAL) are considered important tools to improve neuroanatomy learning, whereas traditional tools such as lecture slides and notes were considered less important. In conclusion, it is suggested that understanding of neuroanatomy could be enhanced and neurophobia be decreased by purposefully designed CAL resources. This data could help curricular designers to refocus attention and guide educators to develop improved neuroanatomy web-resources in future. Anat Sci Educ 11: 81–93. © 2017 American Association of Anatomists.