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The influence of white matter lesions on the electric field in transcranial electric stimulation

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Kalloch,  Benjamin
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Faculty of Computer Science and Media, University of Applied Sciences, Germany;
Methods and Development Group Brain Networks, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Informatics, TU Ilmenau, Germany;

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Weise,  Konstantin
Methods and Development Group Brain Networks, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Advanced Electromagnetics, TU Ilmenau, Germany;

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Lampe,  Leonie
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Bazin,  Pierre-Louis
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sehm,  Bernhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Neurology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany;

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Citation

Kalloch, B., Weise, K., Lampe, L., Bazin, P.-L., Villringer, A., Hlawitschka, M., et al. (2022). The influence of white matter lesions on the electric field in transcranial electric stimulation. NeuroImage: Clinical, 35: 103071. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2022.103071.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-9716-3
Abstract
Background Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising tool to enhance therapeutic efforts, for instance, after a stroke. The achieved stimulation effects exhibit high inter-subject variability, primarily driven by perturbations of the induced electric field (EF). Differences are further elevated in the aging brain due to anatomical changes such as atrophy or lesions. Informing tDCS protocols by computer-based, individualized EF simulations is a suggested measure to mitigate this variability. Objective While brain anatomy in general and specifically atrophy as well as stroke lesions are deemed influential on the EF in simulation studies, the influence of the uncertainty in the change of the electrical properties of the white matter due to white matter lesions (WMLs) has not been quantified yet. Methods A group simulation study with 88 subjects assigned into four groups of increasing lesion load was conducted. Due to the lack of information about the electrical conductivity of WMLs, an uncertainty analysis was employed to quantify the variability in the simulation when choosing an arbitrary conductivity value for the lesioned tissue. Results The contribution of WMLs to the EF variance was on average only one tenth to one thousandth of the contribution of the other modeled tissues. While the contribution of the WMLs significantly increased ( in subjects exhibiting a high lesion load compared to low lesion load subjects, typically by a factor of 10 and above, the total variance of the EF didnot change with the lesion load. Conclusion Our results suggest that WMLs do not perturb the EF globally and can thus be omitted when modeling subjects with low to medium lesion load. However, for high lesion load subjects, the omission of WMLs may yield less robust local EF estimations in the vicinity of the lesioned tissue. Our results contribute to the efforts of accurate modeling of tDCS for treatment planning.