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Assessment of electric field distribution in anisotropic cortical and subcortical regions under the influence of tDCS



The focus of this study is to estimate the contribution of regional anisotropic conductivity on the spatial distribution of an induced electric field across gray matter (GM), white matter (WM), and subcortical regions under transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The assessment was conducted using a passive high-resolution finite element head model with inhomogeneous and variable anisotropic conductivities derived from the diffusion tensor data. Electric field distribution was evaluated across different cortical as well as subcortical regions under four bicephalic electrode configurations. Results indicate that regional tissue heterogeneity and anisotropy cause the pattern of induced fields to vary in orientation and strength when compared to the isotropic scenario. Different electrode montages resulted in distinct distribution patterns with noticeable variations in field strengths. The effect of anisotropy is highly montage dependent and directional conductivity has a more profound effect in defining the strength of the induced field. The inclusion of anisotropy in the GM and subcortical regions has a significant effect on the strength and spatial distribution of the induced electric field. Under the (C3–Fp2) montage, the inclusion of GM and subcortical anisotropy increased the average percentage difference in the electric field strength of brain from 5% to 34% (WM anisotropy only). In terms of patterns distribution, the topographic errors increased from 9.9% to 40% (WM anisotropy only) across the brain. Bioelectromagnetics. 35:41–57, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.