Send to

Choose Destination
J Neural Eng. 2014 Feb;11(1):016002. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/11/1/016002. Epub 2013 Dec 5.

Investigation of tDCS volume conduction effects in a highly realistic head model.

Author information

Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignal Analysis, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.



We investigate volume conduction effects in transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and present a guideline for efficient and yet accurate volume conductor modeling in tDCS using our newly-developed finite element (FE) approach.


We developed a new, accurate and fast isoparametric FE approach for high-resolution geometry-adapted hexahedral meshes and tissue anisotropy. To attain a deeper insight into tDCS, we performed computer simulations, starting with a homogenized three-compartment head model and extending this step by step to a six-compartment anisotropic model.


We are able to demonstrate important tDCS effects. First, we find channeling effects of the skin, the skull spongiosa and the cerebrospinal fluid compartments. Second, current vectors tend to be oriented towards the closest higher conducting region. Third, anisotropic WM conductivity causes current flow in directions more parallel to the WM fiber tracts. Fourth, the highest cortical current magnitudes are not only found close to the stimulation sites. Fifth, the median brain current density decreases with increasing distance from the electrodes.


Our results allow us to formulate a guideline for volume conductor modeling in tDCS. We recommend to accurately model the major tissues between the stimulating electrodes and the target areas, while for efficient yet accurate modeling, an exact representation of other tissues is less important. Because for the low-frequency regime in electrophysiology the quasi-static approach is justified, our results should also be valid for at least low-frequency (e.g., below 100 Hz) transcranial alternating current stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for IOP Publishing Ltd.
Loading ...
Support Center