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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 11, 2014

Linking a neural mass model with a 3D model of the human brain to reproduce EEG signals

  • Sabine Petersen EMAIL logo , Ulf Zimmermann , Christian Schmidt , Lars Schwabe , Mareike Warkentin and Stefan J. Teipel


Electroencephalography (EEG) is often employed to measure electrical activity in the living human brain. Simulation studies can help unravel how the brain electrical activity pattern generates the EEG signal, still a widely unresolved question. This article describes a method to simulate brain electrical activity by using neuronal populations of a neural mass model. Implementing these populations in a finite element model of the head offers the opportunity to investigate the influence of each group of neurons to the scalp potential. This model is based on structural magnetic resonance imaging data to specify tissue composition, and diffusion tensor imaging data to model local anisotropy. We simulated the EEG signals of five neuronal populations generating α waves in the visual cortex. Our results indicate that radially oriented sources dominate over tangential sources in the generation of the scalp signal. Investigating the influence of anisotropic conductivity, we found small differences in topography and phase and larger ones for the potential amplitude compared with an isotropic conductivity distribution. The outcome of this article is a fast method based on superposition of sources for simulating time-dependent EEG signals, which can be used for further studies of neurodegenerative diseases.

Corresponding author: Sabine Petersen, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Marine Technology, Department of Material Science and Medical Engineering, University of Rostock, Friedrich-Barnewitz-Strasse 4, D-18119 Rostock, Germany, Phone: +49-(0)381-54345-535, Fax: +49-(0)381-54345-540, E-mail:


This work was supported in part by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (research training group: welisa).


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Received: 2013-6-5
Accepted: 2014-1-13
Published Online: 2014-2-11
Published in Print: 2014-6-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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