Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 35, Issue 10, pp 1699–1712

Modeling Skull Electrical Properties


DOI: 10.1007/s10439-007-9343-5

Cite this article as:
Sadleir, R.J. & Argibay, A. Ann Biomed Eng (2007) 35: 1699. doi:10.1007/s10439-007-9343-5


Accurate representations and measurements of skull electrical conductivity are essential in developing appropriate forward models for applications such as inverse EEG or Electrical Impedance Tomography of the head. Because of its layered structure, it is often assumed that skull is anisotropic, with an anisotropy ratio around 10. However, no detailed investigation of skull anisotropy has been performed. In this paper we investigate four-electrode measurements of conductivities and their relation to tissue anisotropy ratio (ratio of tangential to radial conductivity) in layered or anisotropic biological samples similar to bone. It is shown here that typical values for the thicknesses and radial conductivities of individual skull layers produce tissue with much smaller anisotropy ratios than 10. Moreover, we show that there are very significant differences between the field patterns formed in a three-layered isotropic structure plausible for bone, and those formed assuming that bone is homogeneous and anisotropic. We performed a measurement of conductivity using an electrode configuration sensitive to the distinction between three-layered and homogeneous anisotropic composition and found results consistent with the sample being three-layered. We recommend that the skull be more appropriately represented as three isotropic layers than as homogeneous and anisotropic.


Skull conductivityAnisotropyFinite element modelHead model

Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Gaumard ScientificMiamiUSA