Simulating transcranial direct current stimulation with a detailed anisotropic human head model

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique able to induce long-lasting changes in cortical excitability that can benefit cognitive functioning and clinical treatment. In order to both better understand the mechanisms behind tDCS and possibly improve the technique, finite element models are used to simulate tDCS of the human brain. With the detailed anisotropic head model presented in this study, we provide accurate predictions of tDCS in the human brain for six of the practically most-used setups in clinical and cognitive research, targeting the primary motor cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, occipital cortex, and cerebellum. We present the resulting electric field strengths in the complete brain and introduce new methods to evaluate the effectivity in the target area specifically, where we have analyzed both the strength and direction of the field. For all cerebral targets studied, the currently accepted configurations produced sub-optimal field strengths. The configuration for cerebellum stimulation produced relatively high field strengths in its target area, but it needs higher input currents than cerebral stimulation does. This study suggests that improvements in the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation are achievable.