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Clin Neurophysiol. 2002 May;113(5):702-12.

A standardized boundary element method volume conductor model.

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Neuroscan Laboratories, Lutterothstrasse 28e, D-20255 Hamburg, Germany.



We used a 3-compartment boundary element method (BEM) model from an averaged magnetic resonance image (MRI) data set (Montreal Neurological Institute) in order to provide simple access to realistically shaped volume conductor models for source reconstruction, as compared to individually derived models. The electrode positions were transformed into the model's coordinate system, and the best fit dipole results were transformed back to the original coordinate system. The localization accuracy of the new approach was tested in a comparison with simulated data and with individual BEM models of epileptic spike data from several patients.


The standard BEM model consisted of a total of 4770 nodes, which describe the smoothed cortical envelope, the outside of the skull, and the outside of the skin. The electrode positions were transformed to the model coordinate system by using 3-5 fiducials (nasion, left and right preauricular points, vertex, and inion). The transformation consisted of an averaged scaling factor and a rigid transformation (translation and rotation). The potential values at the transformed electrode positions were calculated by linear interpolation from the stored transfer matrix of the outer BEM compartment triangle net. After source reconstruction the best fit dipole results were transformed back into the original coordinate system by applying the inverse of the first transformation matrix.


Test-dipoles at random locations and with random orientations inside of a highly refined reference BEM model were used to simulate noise-free data. Source reconstruction results using a spherical and the standardized BEM volume conductor model were compared to the known dipole positions. Spherical head models resulted in mislocation errors at the base of the brain. The standardized BEM model was applied to averaged and unaveraged epileptic spike data from 7 patients. Source reconstruction results were compared to those achieved by 3 spherical shell models and individual BEM models derived from the individual MRI data sets. Similar errors to that evident with simulations were noted with spherical head models. Standardized and individualized BEM models were comparable.


This new approach to head modeling performed significantly better than a simple spherical shell approximation, especially in basal brain areas, including the temporal lobe. By using a standardized head for the BEM setup, it offered an easier and faster access to realistically shaped volume conductor models as compared to deriving specific models from individual 3-dimensional MRI data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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