Cadavers beat computers for learning anatomy

Despite the growing popularity of using computer simulation to help teach college anatomy, students learn much better through the traditional use of human cadavers, according to new research that has implications for health care.

Cary Roseth, associate professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University, said the study suggests cadaver-based instruction should continue in undergraduate human anatomy, a gateway course to medical school, nursing and other health and medical fields.

In the United States, most anatomy courses still emphasize the use of cadavers, although in many cases digital technologies supplement the instruction. Yet there is a growing debate over whether cadavers are needed at all; some medical schools in Australia and the United Kingdom have stopped using cadavers to teach anatomy altogether.

The research, which appears in the September/October issue of Anatomical Sciences Education, is the only known scientific study to directly compare the effects of cadaver-based and computer-simulation instruction on students