The structure of the anatomical surfaces, e.g., CSF and gray and white matter, could severely influence the flow of volume currents in a head model. This, in turn, will also influence the scalp potentials and the inverse source localizations. This was examined in detail with four different human head models.
Four finite element head models constructed from segmented MR images of an adult male subject were used for this study. These models were: (1) Model 1: full model with eleven tissues that included detailed structure of the scalp, hard and soft skull bone, CSF, gray and white matter and other prominent tissues, (2) the Model 2 was derived from the Model 1 in which the conductivity of gray matter was set equal to the white matter, i.e., a ten tissue-type model, (3) the Model 3 was derived from the Model 1 in which the conductivities of gray matter and CSF were set equal to the white matter, i.e., a nine tissue-type model, (4) the Model 4 consisted of scalp, hard skull bone, CSF, gray and white matter, i.e., a five tissue-type model. How model complexity influences the EEG source localizations was also studied with the above four finite element models of the head. The lead fields and scalp potentials due to dipolar sources in the motor cortex were computed for all four models. The inverse source localizations were performed with an exhaustive search pattern in the motor cortex area. The inverse analysis was performed by adding uncorrelated Gaussian noise to the scalp potentials to achieve a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of -10 to 30 dB. The Model 1 was used as a reference model.
The reference model, as expected, performed the best. The Model 3, which did not have the CSF layer, performed the worst. The mean source localization errors (MLEs) of the Model 3 were larger than the Model 1 or 2. The scalp potentials were also most affected by the lack of CSF geometry in the Model 3. The MLEs for the Model 4 were also larger than the Model 1 and 2. The Model 4 and the Model 3 had similar MLEs in the SNR range of -10 dB to 0 dB. However, in the SNR range of 5 dB to 30 dB, the Model 4 has lower MLEs as compared with the Model 3.
These results indicate that the complexity of head models strongly influences the scalp potentials and the inverse source localizations. A more complex head model performs better in inverse source localizations as compared to a model with lesser tissue surfaces. The CSF layer plays an important role in modifying the scalp potentials and also influences the inverse source localizations. In summary, for best results one needs to have highly heterogeneous models of the head for accurate simulations of scalp potentials and for inverse source localizations.