Value and limitations of intracranial recordings for validating electric field modeling for transcranial brain stimulation

Oula Puonti, Guilherme B. Saturnino, Kristoffer H. Madsen, Axel Thielscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Comparing electric field simulations from individualized head models against in-vivo intra-cranial recordings is considered the gold standard for direct validation of computational field modeling for transcranial brain stimulation and brain mapping techniques such as electro- and magnetoencephalography. The measurements also help to improve simulation accuracy by pinning down the factors having the largest influence on the simulations. Here we compare field simulations from four different automated pipelines against intracranial voltage recordings in an existing dataset of 14 epilepsy patients. We show that modeling differences in the pipelines lead to notable differences in the simulated electric field distributions that are often large enough to change the conclusions regarding the dose distribution and strength in the brain. Specifically, differences in the automatic segmentations of the head anatomy from structural magnetic resonance images are a major factor contributing to the observed field differences. However, the differences in the simulated fields are not reflected in the comparison between the simulations and intra-cranial measurements. This apparent mismatch is partly explained by the noisiness of the intra-cranial measurements, which renders comparisons between the methods inconclusive. We further demonstrate that a standard regression analysis, which ignores uncertainties in the simulations, leads to a strong bias in the estimated linear relationship between simulated and measured fields. Ignoring this bias leads to the incorrect conclusion that the models systematically misestimate the field strength in the brain. We propose a new Bayesian regression analysis of the data that yields unbiased parameter estimates, along with their uncertainties, and gives further insights to the fit between simulations and measurements. Specifically, the unbiased results give only weak support for systematic misestimations of the fields by the models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116431
JournalNeuroImage
Volume208
Number of pages14
ISSN1053-8119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Bayesian regression
  • Errors-in-variables regression
  • TACS
  • TDCS
  • Transcranial brain stimulation
  • Volume conductor model

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