Computational models are a popular tool for predicting the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on neural tissue. One commonly used model, the volume of tissue activated (VTA), is computed using multiple methodologies. We quantified differences in the VTAs generated by five methodologies: the traditional axon model method, the electric field norm, and three activating function based approaches - the activating function at each grid point in the tangential direction (AF-Tan) or in the maximally activating direction (AF-3D), and the maximum activating function along the entire length of a tangential fiber (AF-Max).
 Approach: We computed the VTA using each method across multiple stimulation settings. The resulting volumes were compared for similarity, and the methodologies were analyzed for their differences in behavior.
 Main Results: Activation threshold values for both the electric field norm and the activating function vary with regards to electrode configuration, pulse width, and frequency. All methods produced highly similar volumes for monopolar stimulation. For bipolar electrode configurations, only the maximum activating function along the tangential axon method, AF-Max, produced similar volumes to those produced by the axon model method. Further analysis revealed that both of these methods are biased by their exclusive use of tangential fiber orientations. In contrast, the activating function in the maximally activating direction method, AF-3D, produces a VTA that is free of axon orientation and projection bias.
 Significance: Simulating tangentially oriented axons, the standard approach of computing the VTA, is too computationally expensive for widespread implementation and yields results biased by the assumption of tangential fiber orientation. In this work, we show that a computationally efficient method based on the activating function, AF-Max, reliably reproduces the VTAs generated by direct axon modeling. Further, we propose another method, AF-3D as a potentially superior model for representing generic neural tissue activation. Read more.

fig3_v3_ws-01.png