A three-layer MRI-based head phantom for experimental validation of tES simulations

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Transcranial electric stimulation (tES) is being investigated for the relief of seizures in medically refractory epilepsy patients. In a quest to optimize the electrode placement and current for improvement of the outcome, we are investigating the exploitation of the pre-stimulation planning using finite element simulations based on individual anatomy from MRI [RM1] scans. A crucial step is validating the stimulation modeling accuracy, but commercial setups for validation do not exist.
Hereto, we developed a three-layer head phantom, consisting of skin, skull, and brain tissue, that captures the crucial anatomical features and provides a convenient way of verifying the induced electric fields. It also enables systematic characterization of the uncertainties and variations in conductivity and anatomy. Experiments on the three-layer phantom bridge the gap between simulations and clinical practice since they also allow for using clinical hardware and electrodes.
The developed phantom consists of an agar and salt brain layer, a graphite-doped polyurethane skull, and a skin layer made from agar gel with a different conductivity. In this way the solid skull separates the two gel layers, preventing possible ion drift over the layers. The anatomy is based on the ICBM 152 linear model, an average of 152 MRI scans, which enables us to intuitively link measurements and simulations. To perform the systematic characterization experiments, hardware and software were designed in-house. This allows for stimulations and measurements on the phantom in a cheap and modular way. The designed hardware consists of a PID-controlled tES stimulator, which can deliver 4 mA with a frequency up to 100 Hz, and a four-channel differential sensing board based on the OpenBCI Ganglion board.
A realistic and modular phantom expands the possibilities of preclinical tES research by providing a tool to validate electric field simulations as well as experiment with clinical hardware and anatomical variations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265
Number of pages1
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023
Event5th International Brain Stimulation Conference - Lisbon , Portugal
Duration: 19 Feb 202322 Feb 2023
Conference number: 5


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