The hand dissected

Superficial hand prosection
Prepared by Maria Wright BSc (Hons), Senior Teaching Technician, Department of Physiology Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge. Winner of the Institute of Anatomical Sciences Marjorie England Dissection Prize, 2009

Behind this striking image lies an important debate about the relative merits of dissection and the use of teaching tools, examples painstakingly prepared to demonstrate specific anatomical structures. Does the student learn best by doing or by example? Both techniques are practised today in Cambridge. Here, the technician’s skill highlights several functional structures in the left hand and wrist in vivid detail. There is a clear line from this educational tool back to the tradition described by Thomas Lorkyn, Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge in the late sixteenth century, whereby students learnt by observing the professional surgeon at work.