Computational Finite Element Method (FEM) forward modeling workflow for transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) current flow on MRI-derived head: Simpleware and COMSOL Multiphysics tutorial. Ole Seibt, Dennis Truong, Niranjan Khadka, Yu Huang, Marom Bikson. bioRxiv 704940; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/704940
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) dose designs are often based on computational Finite Element Method (FEM) forward modeling studies. These FEM models educate researchers about the resulting current flow (intensity and pattern) and so the resulting neurophysiological and behavioral changes based on tDCS dose (mA), resistivity of head tissues (e.g. skin, skull, CSF, brain), and head anatomy. Moreover, model support optimization of montage to target specific brain regions. Computational models are thus an ancillary tool used to inform the design, set-up and programming of tDCS devices, and investigate the role of parameters such as electrode assembly, current directionality, and polarity of tDCS in optimizing therapeutic interventions. Computational FEM modeling pipeline of tDCS initiates with segmentation of an exemplary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of a template head into multiple tissue compartments to develop a higher resolution (< 1 mm) MRI derived FEM model using Simpleware ScanIP. Next, electrode assembly (anode and cathode of variant dimension) is positioned over the brain target and meshed at different mesh densities. Finally, a volumetric mesh of the head with electrodes is imported in COMSOL and a quasistatic approximation (stead-state solution method) is implemented with boundary conditions such as inward normal current density (anode), ground (cathode), and electrically insulating remaining boundaries. A successfully solved FEM model is used to visualize the model prediction via different plots (streamlines, volume plot, arrow plot).