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Variable Anisotropic Brain Electrical Conductivities in Epileptogenic Foci


Source localization models assume brain electrical conductivities are isotropic at about 0.33 S/m. These assumptions have not been confirmed ex vivo in humans. This study determined bidirectional electrical conductivities from pediatric epilepsy surgery patients. Electrical conductivities perpendicular and parallel to the pial surface of neocortex and subcortical white matter (n = 15) were measured using the 4-electrode technique and compared with clinical variables. Mean (±SD) electrical conductivities were 0.10 ± 0.01 S/m, and varied by 243% from patient to patient. Perpendicular and parallel conductivities differed by 45%, and the larger values were perpendicular to the pial surface in 47% and parallel in 40% of patients. A perpendicular principal axis was associated with normal, while isotropy and parallel principal axes were linked with epileptogenic lesions by MRI. Electrical conductivities were decreased in patients with cortical dysplasia compared with non-dysplasia etiologies. The electrical conductivity values of freshly excised human brain tissues were approximately 30% of assumed values, varied by over 200% from patient to patient, and had erratic anisotropic and isotropic shapes if the MRI showed a lesion. Understanding brain electrical conductivity and ways to non-invasively measure them are probably necessary to enhance the ability to localize EEG sources from epilepsy surgery patients.

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