Interactive 3D Visualisation of the Mammalian Circadian System

Allison Sugden, Maria Gardani, Brian Loranger, Paul M. Rea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The daily fluctuations that govern an organism’s physiology and behaviour are referred to as the circadian rhythm. Dramatic changes in our internal or external environment can affect these fluctuations by causing them to shift abnormally. Chronic readjustment in circadian rhythmicity can lead to health defects that extend throughout the organism. These patterns have been known to affect nearly every facet of our health, from our mental state to our physiological wellbeing. Thus, it is important for healthcare professionals from a range of backgrounds to comprehend these connections early on in their education and incorporate this knowledge into patient guidance and treatment. Traditionally, the teaching of the circadian rhythm is undertaken by didactic teaching, 2-dimensional (2D) diagrams, and biochemical processes shown from a fixed perspective. There has been a surge in technologies used to develop educational products, but the field of the circadian rhythm has been lagging behind. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to create an interactive learning application for the end-stage user, incorporating industry standard and widely available software packages. Using a mixture of 3DS Max, Photoshop, MeshLab, Mudbox, Unity and Pro Tools, we created a fully interactive package incorporating educational resources and an interactive self test quiz section. Here, we demonstrate a simple workflow methodology that can be used in the creation of a fully interactive learning application for the circadian rhythm, and its wider effects on the human body. With a small-scale study based on feedback demonstrating positive results, and with limited resources in this field, there is enormous potential for this to be applied in the educational and wider public engagement environment related to the circadian rhythm. Indeed, this also provides an excellent framework and platform for development of educational resources for any type of field that needs modernising and updating with modern technological advances, engaging a wider audience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
EditorsPaul M. Rea
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783030193850
ISBN (Print)9783030193874, 9783030193843
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • 3D model
  • Animation
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Interactive learning application
  • Molecular science
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus


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