Potential and current density distributions of cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) in a four-concentric-spheres model

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 1996 Sep;43(9):939-43. doi: 10.1109/10.532128.


Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) has been successfully used for treatment of many psychiatric diseases. Its noninvasive nature is its major advantage over other forms of treatments such as drugs. It is postulated that the low electric current of CES causes the release of neurotransmitters. However, the current pathways have not been extensively investigated. In the following paper, analytical and numerical methods are used to determine the distribution of potential and current density in a four zone concentric spheres model of the human head when excited by two electrodes diametrically opposite to each other. Because of the azimuthal symmetry, which is assumed in this study, a two-dimensional (2-D) finite difference approximation is derived in the spherical grid. The current density distribution is projected around the center of the model, where the thalamus is modeled as a concentric sphere. All dimensions and electrical properties of the model are adapted from clinical data. Results of this simulation indicate that, in contrast to previous beliefs, a small fraction of the CES current does reaches the thalamic area and may facilitate the release of neurotransmitters.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / chemistry
  • Densitometry
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Head / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Scalp / chemistry
  • Skull / chemistry
  • Surface Properties
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamus / physiology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents