Influence of Local and Remote White Matter Conductivity Anisotropy for a Thalamic Source on EEG / MEG Field and Return Current Computation

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Peer Reviewed


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Scholarship of Discovery


Inverse methods are used to reconstruct current sources in the human brain by means of Electroencephalography (EEG) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG) measurements of event related fields or epileptic seizures. There exists a persistent uncertainty regarding the influence of anisotropy of the white matter compartment on neural source reconstruction. In this paper, we study the sensitivity to anisotropy of the EEG/MEG forward problem for a thalamic source in a high resolution finite element volume conductor. The influence of anisotropy on computed fields will be presented by both high resolution visualization of fields and return current flow and topography and magnitude error measures. We pay particular attention to the influence of local conductivity changes in the neighborhood of the source. The combination of simulation and visualization provides deep insight into the effect of white matter conductivity anisotropy. We found that for both EEG and MEG formulations, the local presence of electrical anisotropy in the tissue surrounding the source substantially compromised the forward field computation, and correspondingly, the inverse source reconstruction. The degree of error resulting from the uncompensated presence of tissue anisotropy depended strongly on the proximity of the anisotropy to the source; remote anisotropy had a much weaker influence than anisotropic tissue that included the source. Keywords— anisotropy, EEG/MEG source reconstruction, finite element method, local conductivity changes, return currents, thalamus, visualization...