Incorporating and Compensating Cerebrospinal Fluid in Surface-Based Forward Models of Magneto- and Electroencephalography

Matti Stenroos*, Aapo Nummenmaa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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MEG/EEG source imaging is usually done using a three-shell (3-S) or a simpler head model. Such models omit cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that strongly affects the volume currents. We present a four-compartment (4-C) boundary-element (BEM) model that incorporates the CSF and is computationally efficient and straightforward to build using freely available software. We propose a way for compensating the omission of CSF by decreasing the skull conductivity of the 3-S model, and study the robustness of the 4-C and 3-S models to errors in skull conductivity. We generated dense boundary meshes using MRI datasets and automated Sim NIBS pipeline. Then, we built a dense 4-C reference model using Galerkin BEM, and 4-C and 3-S test models using coarser meshes and both Galerkin and collocation BEMs. We compared field topographies of cortical sources, applying various skull conductivities and fitting conductivities that minimized the relative error in 4-C and 3-S models. When the CSF was left out from the EEG model, our compensated, unbiased approach improved the accuracy of the 3-S model considerably compared to the conventional approach, where CSF is neglected without any compensation (mean relative error <20% vs. > 40%). The error due to the omission of CSF was of the same order in MEG and compensated EEG. EEG has, however, large overall error due to uncertain skull conductivity. Our results show that a realistic 4-C MEG/EEG model can be implemented using standard tools and basic BEM, without excessive workload or computational burden. If the CSF is omitted, compensated skull conductivity should be used in EEG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0159595
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • EEG


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