Abstract | Measurements and models of electric fields in the in vivo human brain during transcranial electric stimulation

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Measurements and models of electric fields in the in vivo human brain during transcranial electric stimulation

Abstract

Affiliation details

City College of the City University of New York, United States; New York University School of Medicine, United States; Mayo Clinic, United States

Transcranial electric stimulation aims to stimulate the brain by applying weak electrical currents at the scalp. However, the magnitude and spatial distribution of electric fields in the human brain are unknown. We measured electric potentials intracranially in ten epilepsy patients and estimated electric fields across the entire brain by leveraging calibrated current-flow models. When stimulating at 2 mA, cortical electric fields reach 0.4 V/m, the lower limit of effectiveness in animal studies. When individual whole-head anatomy is considered, the predicted electric field magnitudes correlate with the recorded values in cortical (r = 0.89) and depth (r = 0.84) electrodes. Accurate models require adjustment of tissue conductivity values reported in the literature, but accuracy is not improved when incorporating white matter anisotropy or different skull compartments. This is the first study to validate and calibrate current-flow models with in vivo intracranial recordings in humans, providing a solid foundation to target stimulation and interpret clinical trials.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.18834.001