Biomechanics of traumatic brain injury: influences of the morphologic heterogeneities of the cerebral cortex

Ann Biomed Eng. 2008 Jul;36(7):1203-15. doi: 10.1007/s10439-008-9510-3. Epub 2008 May 9.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be caused by accidents and often leads to permanent health issues or even death. Brain injury criteria are used for assessing the probability of TBI, if a certain mechanical load is applied. The currently used injury criteria in the automotive industry are based on global head kinematics. New methods, based on finite element modeling, use brain injury criteria at lower scale levels, e.g., tissue-based injury criteria. However, most current computational head models lack the anatomical details of the cerebrum. To investigate the influence of the morphologic heterogeneities of the cerebral cortex, a numerical model of a representative part of the cerebral cortex with a detailed geometry has been developed. Several different geometries containing gyri and sulci have been developed for this model. Also, a homogeneous geometry has been made to analyze the relative importance of the heterogeneities. The loading conditions are based on a computational head model simulation. The results of this model indicate that the heterogeneities have an influence on the equivalent stress. The maximum equivalent stress in the heterogeneous models is increased by a factor of about 1.3-1.9 with respect to the homogeneous model, whereas the mean equivalent stress is increased by at most 10%. This implies that tissue-based injury criteria may not be accurately applied to most computational head models used nowadays, which do not account for sulci and gyri.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / methods*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / injuries*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Physical Stimulation / adverse effects*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Weight-Bearing