A Three-Dimensional Computational Human Head Model That Captures Live Human Brain Dynamics

J Neurotrauma. 2017 Jul 1;34(13):2154-2166. doi: 10.1089/neu.2016.4744. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a debilitating consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) attributed to abnormal stretching of axons caused by blunt head trauma or acceleration of the head. We developed an anatomically accurate, subject-specific, three-dimensional (3D) computational model of the human brain, and used it to study the dynamic deformations in the substructures of the brain when the head is subjected to rotational accelerations. The computational head models use anatomy and morphology of the white matter fibers obtained using MRI. Subject-specific full-field shearing motions in live human brains obtained through a recently developed tagged MRI imaging technique are then used to validate the models by comparing the measured and predicted heterogeneous dynamic mechanical response of the brain. These results are used to elucidate the dynamics of local shearing deformations in the brain substructures caused by rotational acceleration of the head. Our work demonstrates that the rotational dynamics of the brain has a timescale of ∼100 ms as determined by the shearing wave speeds, and thus the injuries associated with rotational accelerations likely occur over these time scales. After subject-specific validation using the live human subject data, a representative subject-specific head model is used to simulate a real life scenario that resulted in a concussive injury. Results suggest that regions of the brain, in the form of a toroid, encompassing the white matter, the cortical gray matter, and outer parts of the limbic system have a higher susceptibility to injury under axial rotations of the head.

Keywords: DAI; computational head model; human brain deformation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury / physiopathology*
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Head / diagnostic imaging
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Biological*
  • Rotation
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter / injuries*
  • White Matter / physiopathology