Burlesque Brain

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A large model used to demonstrate the skull and meninges protecting the brain. Useful in big lecture theatres for first year anatomy teaching and for public demonstrations. The materials used are tactile and each is a metaphor for the function of a particular layer

  • Skull - several hard plates that interlock
  • Dura mater - tough and flexible
  • Arachnoid mater - complex web-work with large blood vessels
  • Pia mater - delicate and fitting close to the brain

Movie of Burlesque

Click to enlarge images of Dr Jasoni demonstrating the Burlesque Brain:

Production Information

This model was made as a one-off from the inside out. The very simple brain shape was carved from a large block of expanding foam, covered with a resin shell, painted and sealed.

The pattern pieces for the fabric layers were made by wrapping the brain model with paper and then cutting that paper along lines that resembled sulci until the pattern lay flat. The following images are of tidy reproductions of the original patterns. The Pia pattern was made first and the arachnoid/dura pattern graded up from that. Background grid is 100mm x 100mm.

Materials: pink organza fabric (Pia), black devoré fabric and dacron with red trim (Arachnoid) and heavy beige suede-like fabric (Dura). Zips were inserted along the midline.

The aluminium skull plates with clips were designed and produced by a specialist engineer.

For ease of transport and for maximum unveiling effect a padded carry case was produced to fit the completed model.

Creators: Dr Christine Jasoni (initial idea and academic support), Fieke Neuman (sculpting, painting, patterns and sewing), Shane Soal (expanding foam, resin, painting), Howard Haugh (design and construction of the aluminium components), Alex Witherow (wooden base of carry case). All from Department of Anatomy, University of Otago except for Mr Haugh.

Keywords: Teaching, Anatomy, Neuroanatomy, Meninges, Skull, Dura, Arachnoid, Pia, Brain, Science, Biology

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