Comparison of spherical and realistically shaped boundary element head models for transcranial magnetic stimulation navigation

Aapo Nummenmaa*, Matti Stenroos, Risto J. Ilmoniemi, Yoshio C. Okada, Matti S. Hämäläinen, Tommi Raij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Objective: MRI-guided real-time transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) navigators that apply electromagnetic modeling have improved the utility of TMS. However, their accuracy and speed depends on the assumed volume conductor geometry. Spherical models found in present navigators are computationally fast but may be inaccurate in some areas. Realistically shaped boundary-element models (BEMs) could increase accuracy at a moderate computational cost, but it is unknown which model features have the largest influence on accuracy. Thus, we compared different types of spherical models and BEMs. Methods: Globally and locally fitted spherical models and different BEMs with either one or three compartments and with different skull-to-brain conductivity ratios (1/1-1/80) were compared against a reference BEM. Results: The one-compartment BEM at inner skull surface was almost as accurate as the reference BEM. Skull/brain conductivity ratio in the range 1/10-1/80 had only a minor influence. BEMs were superior to spherical models especially in frontal and temporal areas (up to 20. mm localization and 40% intensity improvement); in motor cortex all models provided similar results. Conclusions: One-compartment BEMs offer a good balance between accuracy and computational cost. Significance: Realistically shaped BEMs may increase TMS navigation accuracy in several brain areas, such as in prefrontal regions often targeted in clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1995-2007
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Boundary element method
  • Electromagnetic modeling
  • Image guided navigation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of spherical and realistically shaped boundary element head models for transcranial magnetic stimulation navigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this