Physiological observations validate finite element models for estimating subject-specific electric field distributions induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation of the human motor cortex

Academic Article


  • Recent evidence indicates subject-specific gyral folding patterns and white matter anisotropy uniquely shape electric fields generated by TMS. Current methods for predicting the brain regions influenced by TMS involve projecting the TMS coil position or center of gravity onto realistic head models derived from structural and functional imaging data. Similarly, spherical models have been used to estimate electric field distributions generated by TMS pulses delivered from a particular coil location and position. In the present paper we inspect differences between electric field computations estimated using the finite element method (FEM) and projection-based approaches described above. We then more specifically examined an approach for estimating cortical excitation volumes based on individualistic FEM simulations of electric fields. We evaluated this approach by performing neurophysiological recordings during MR-navigated motormapping experiments. We recorded motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in response to single pulse TMS using two different coil orientations (45° and 90° to midline) at 25 different locations (5×5 grid, 1cm spacing) centered on the hotspot of the right first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle in left motor cortex. We observed that motor excitability maps varied within and between subjects as a function of TMS coil position and orientation. For each coil position and orientation tested, simulations of the TMS-induced electric field were computed using individualistic FEM models and compared to MEP amplitudes obtained during our motormapping experiments. We found FEM simulations of electric field strength, which take into account subject-specific gyral geometry and tissue conductivity anisotropy, significantly correlated with physiologically observed MEP amplitudes (rmax=0.91, p=1.8×10-5 rmean=0.81, p=0.01). These observations validate the implementation of individualistic FEM models to account for variations in gyral folding patterns and tissue conductivity anisotropy, which should help improve the targeting accuracy of TMS in the mapping or modulation of human brain circuits. © 2013 The Authors.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • NeuroImage  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Opitz A; Legon W; Rowlands A; Bickel WK; Paulus W; Tyler WJ
  • Start Page

  • 253
  • End Page

  • 264
  • Volume

  • 81