Realistic vOlumetric-Approach to Simulate Transcranial Electric Stimulation – ROAST – a fully automated open-source pipeline
Journal of neural engineering | 10 May 2019
Y Huang, A Datta, M Bikson and LC Parra
Research in the area of transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) often relies on computational models of current flow in the brain. Models are built based on magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the human head to capture detailed individual anatomy. To simulate current flow on an individual, the subject’s MRI is segmented, virtual electrodes are placed on this anatomical model, the volume is tessellated into a mesh, and a finite element model (FEM) is solved numerically to estimate the current flow. Various software tools are available for each of these steps, as well as processing pipelines that connect these tools for automated or semi-automated processing. The goal of the present tool – ROAST – is to provide an end-to-end pipeline that can automatically process individual heads with realistic volumetric anatomy leveraging open-source software and custom scripts to improve segmentation and execute electrode placement. Approach: ROAST combines the segmentation algorithm of SPM8, a Matlab script for touch-up and automatic electrode placement, the finite element mesher iso2mesh and solver getDP. We compared its performance with commercial FEM software, and SimNIBS, a well-established open-source modeling pipeline. Main Results: The electric fields estimated with ROAST differ little from the results obtained with commercial meshing and solving software. We also do not find large differences between the various automated segmentation methods used by ROAST and SimNIBS. We do find bigger differences when volumetric segmentation are converted into surfaces in SimNIBS. However, evaluation on intracranial recordings from human subjects suggests that ROAST and SimNIBS are not significantly different in predicting field distribution, provided that users have detailed knowledge of SimNIBS. Significance: We hope that the detailed comparisons presented here of various choices in this modeling pipeline can provide guidance for future tool development. We released ROAST as an open-source, easy-to-install and fully-automated pipeline for individualized TES modeling.
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