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Neuroimage. 2012 Sep;62(3):2161-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.055. Epub 2012 May 29.

Anisotropic partial volume CSF modeling for EEG source localization.

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Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Electromagnetic source localization (ESL) provides non-invasive evaluation of brain electrical activity for neurology research and clinical evaluation of neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Accurate ESL results are dependent upon the use of patient specific models of bioelectric conductivity. While the effects of anisotropic conductivities in the skull and white matter have been previously studied, little attention has been paid to the accurate modeling of the highly conductive cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) region. This study examines the effect that partial volume errors in CSF segmentations have upon the ESL bioelectric model. These errors arise when segmenting sulcal channels whose widths are similar to the resolution of the magnetic resonance (MR) images used for segmentation, as some voxels containing both CSF and gray matter cannot be definitively assigned a single label. These problems, particularly prevalent in pediatric populations, make voxelwise segmentation of CSF compartments a difficult problem. Given the high conductivity of CSF, errors in modeling this region may result in large errors in the bioelectric model. We introduce here a new approach for using estimates of partial volume fractions in the construction of patient specific bioelectric models. In regions where partial volume errors are expected, we use a layered gray matter-CSF model to construct equivalent anisotropic conductivity tensors. This allows us to account for the inhomogeneity of the tissue within each voxel. Using this approach, we are able to reduce the error in the resulting bioelectric models, as evaluated against a known high resolution model. Additionally, this model permits us to evaluate the effects of sulci modeling errors and quantify the mean error as a function of the change in sulci width. Our results suggest that both under and over-estimation of the CSF region leads to significant errors in the bioelectric model. While a model with fixed partial volume fraction is able to reduce this error, we see the largest improvement when using voxel specific partial volume estimates. Our cross-model analyses suggest that an approximately linear relationship exists between sulci error and the error in the resulting bioelectric model. Given the difficulty of accurately segmenting narrow sulcal channels, this suggests that our approach may be capable of improving the accuracy of patient specific bioelectric models by several percent, while introducing only minimal additional computational requirements.

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