Comparison study for whitney (Raviart-Thomas)-type source models in finite-element-method-based EEG forward modeling

Martin Bauer, Sampsa Pursiainen*, Johannes Vorwerk, Harald Kostler, Carsten H. Wolters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study concentrates on finite-element-method (FEM)-based electroencephalography (EEG) forward simulation in which the electric potential evoked by neural activity in the brain is to be calculated at the surface of the head. The main advantage of the FEM is that it allows realistic modeling of tissue conductivity inhomogeneity. However, it is not straightforward to apply the classical model of a dipolar source with the FEM, due to its strong singularity and the resulting irregularity. The focus of this study is on comparing different methods to cope with this problem. In particular, we evaluate the accuracy of Whitney (Raviart-Thomas)-type dipole-like source currents compared to two reference dipole modeling methods: the St. Venant and partial integration approach. Common to all these methods is that they enable direct approximation of the potential field utilizing linear basis functions. In the present context, Whitney elements are particularly interesting, as they provide a simple means to model a divergence-conforming primary current vector field satisfying the square integrability condition. Our results show that a Whitney-type source model can provide simulation accuracy comparable to the present reference methods. It can lead to superior accuracy under optimized conditions with respect to both source location and orientation in a tetrahedral mesh. For random source orientations, the St. Venant approach turns out to be the method of choice over the interpolated version of the Whitney model. The overall moderate differences obtained suggest that practical aspects, such as the focality, should be prioritized when choosing a source model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7115102
Pages (from-to)2648-2656
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Divergence conforming vector fields
  • electroencephalography (EEG)
  • finite element method (FEM)
  • Raviart-Thomas (Whitney) element
  • source modeling

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