Neuroanatomy is in the Cards for Member Mikaela Stiver

Published: 7 December 2021

There are collectible trading card games for almost everything these days. Besides Pokémon, there are, of course, cards for athletes, celebrities, TV and movie characters, and musical instruments, just to name a few.


So when Mikaela Stiver, a faculty lecturer at McGill University in Montreal, Québec, couldn’t find something similar for anatomical structures, it struck a nerve. A cranial nerve. “I was honestly shocked to discover that no one had made anything similar for cranial nerves,” Stiver said. “That’s when I knew I had to make them!”


Armed with an iPad, an iPad pencil and the Procreate app, Stiver started drawing in the park near her condo on evenings and weekends. “I only made one — the olfactory nerve — initially and then posted it on Twitter to see what people thought. I ended up finishing the whole set in less than a month,” Stiver said about her 18-card set. “My goal was to strike a balance between educational and amusing so that anyone can enjoy the cards. My less science-minded friends have enjoyed them just as much as my fellow anatomy nerds.”


Stiver created a template based on the dimensions of actual trading cards, and changed the background color and feature image for each cranial nerve. Each card also features text describing the structure and function of the nerve, where it enters and exists the base of the skull, two “attacks” based on the nerve’s functions, as well as a nickname for the nerve at the bottom of the card. “Everything on the cards is 100 percent drawn by me,” she explained. “I’m not exactly gifted artistically, but I adore digital artwork because I can redraw the same line 1,000 times until I get it perfect.”


Stiver officially released her first set of neuroanatomy cards on September 13, selling over 165 copies in 13 countries across six continents in the first month. They are currently available for purchase on The Game Crafter. Educators can also request digital copies of the cards by request via email at mikaela.stiver [at] () or through Twitter (@MikaelaStiver).


Although she has a full schedule teaching undergraduate neuroanatomy, assisting with gross anatomy labs, and finishing and defending her doctoral thesis in early 2022, Stiver is already contemplating her next set of anatomy trading cards. “I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response so far,” she said. “I’ve had some requests for other neuroanatomical structures, including nuclei, autonomic ganglia, and cortical areas.”

Credit - Published on Anatomy Now Weekly - Dec. 1, 2021

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