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Investigation of tDCS volume conduction effects in a highly realistic head model

Wagner, S., Rampersad, S. M., Aydin, Ü. ORCID:, Vorwerk, J., Oostendorp, T. F., Neuling, T., Herrmann, C. S., Stegeman, D. F. and Wolters, C. H. (2013) Investigation of tDCS volume conduction effects in a highly realistic head model. Journal of Neural Engineering, 11 (1). 016002. ISSN 1741-2560

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1088/1741-2560/11/1/016002


Objective. We investigate volume conduction effects in transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and present a guideline for efficient and yet accurate volume conductor modeling in tDCS using our newly-developed finite element (FE) approach. Approach. We developed a new, accurate and fast isoparametric FE approach for high-resolution geometry-adapted hexahedral meshes and tissue anisotropy. To attain a deeper insight into tDCS, we performed computer simulations, starting with a homogenized three-compartment head model and extending this step by step to a six-compartment anisotropic model. Main results. We are able to demonstrate important tDCS effects. First, we find channeling effects of the skin, the skull spongiosa and the cerebrospinal fluid compartments. Second, current vectors tend to be oriented towards the closest higher conducting region. Third, anisotropic WM conductivity causes current flow in directions more parallel to the WM fiber tracts. Fourth, the highest cortical current magnitudes are not only found close to the stimulation sites. Fifth, the median brain current density decreases with increasing distance from the electrodes. Significance. Our results allow us to formulate a guideline for volume conductor modeling in tDCS. We recommend to accurately model the major tissues between the stimulating electrodes and the target areas, while for efficient yet accurate modeling, an exact representation of other tissues is less important. Because for the low-frequency regime in electrophysiology the quasi-static approach is justified, our results should also be valid for at least low-frequency (e.g., below 100Â Hz) transcranial alternating current stimulation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:111840

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