A realistic three dimensional FEM of the human head

P. M. Bonovas, G. A. Kyriacou, J. N. Sahalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A realistic three-dimensional finite element model (FEM) of the human head has been developed. Separate layers for the scalp, skull, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain were modelled. Hexahedral elements, a special master matrix assembly technique and an iterative successive over-relaxation (SOR) solution scheme were employed. This approach enabled rapid modelling with minimal memory requirements, which makes this method practical if used for electrical impedance tomography (EIT) or source localization inverse problems. Compared to scalp electrodes, subdural voltage sensing electrodes were three to four times more sensitive close to an oedema or source region, if it was peripheral, but this decreased to 30%-40% for central oedema or source regions. Scalp current injecting electrodes are preferable, since the maximum allowable current is 10 times larger than that of the subdural ones. The distance of voltage sensing electrodes from a region to be imaged highly affects sensitivity, so depth electrodes will be more sensitive, provided that they are close to the region of interest. Finally, the electrode size has significant effects on the input or transfer impedance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Brain source localization
  • Electrical impedance tomography
  • Electrode effects
  • Electroencephalography
  • Finite element modelling
  • Human head model
  • Impedance


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