The volume conductor problem in Biomagnetism

Maria J. Peters, S.P. van den Broek, F. Zanow

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic


    When biomagnetic and/or bioelectric measurements are used for the localization of electrical activity within the human body, mathematical models are needed that describe the electrical properties of the sources and the surrounding region, the so-called volume conductor. The sources can be described as arrangements of current dipoles. Commonly, the volume conductor is described by a compartment model, the compartments being piece-wise homogeneous. The volume conductor problem is illustrated for magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG). First, the electrical conductivity of the tissues in the head is discussed. Subsequently, the basic theory, which is based on the quasi-static Maxwell equations, is presented. A set of concentric spheres is commonly used for modeling the head. It will be shown that radial dipoles within such a spherical volume conductor produce no magnetic field. The magnetic field generated by tangential dipoles is not influenced by the radii or conductivities. In contrast, the electrical potential is very dependent on these parameters. Since the shape of the human head differs from that of a sphere, realistically-shaped models are discussed. Such models can be taken into account using numerical methods, such as the boundary element method and the finite element method. Models will be described for MEG, EEG, MCG, and ECG (both for the adult and the fetus). The assessment of the adequacy of the models is the subject of the discussion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSQUID Sensors
    Subtitle of host publicationFundamentals, Fabrication and Applications
    EditorsHarold Weinstock
    Place of PublicationDordrecht, The Netherlands
    PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
    Number of pages34
    ISBN (Electronic)978-94-011-5674-5
    ISBN (Print)978-94-010-6393-7
    Publication statusPublished - 1996
    EventNATO Advanced Study Institute on SQUID Sensors 1995: Fundamentals, Fabrication and Applications - Acquafredda di Maratea, Italy
    Duration: 18 Jun 199530 Jun 1995

    Publication series

    NameNATO ASI Series E: Applied Sciences
    PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
    ISSN (Print)0168-132X


    ConferenceNATO Advanced Study Institute on SQUID Sensors 1995
    CityAcquafredda di Maratea


    • METIS-129833
    • Boundary Element Method
    • Magnetic Field Distribution
    • Current Dipole
    • Concentric Sphere
    • Homogeneous Sphere


    Dive into the research topics of 'The volume conductor problem in Biomagnetism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this