When to include ECoG electrode properties in volume conduction models

M. Vermaas*, M. C. Piastra, T. F. Oostendorp, N. F. Ramsey, P. H.E. Tiesinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Objective. Implantable electrodes, such as electrocorticography (ECoG) grids, are used to record brain activity in applications like brain computer interfaces. To improve the spatial sensitivity of ECoG grid recordings, electrode properties need to be better understood. Therefore, the goal of this study is to analyze the importance of including electrodes explicitly in volume conduction calculations. Approach. We investigated the influence of ECoG electrode properties on potentials in three geometries with three different electrode models. We performed our simulations with FEMfuns, a volume conduction modeling software toolbox based on the finite element method. Main results. The presence of the electrode alters the potential distribution by an amount that depends on its surface impedance, its distance from the source and the strength of the source. Our modeling results show that when ECoG electrodes are near the sources the potentials in the underlying tissue are more uniform than without electrodes. We show that the recorded potential can change up to a factor of 3, if no extended electrode model is used. In conclusion, when the distance between an electrode and the source is equal to or smaller than the size of the electrode, electrode effects cannot be disregarded. Furthermore, the potential distribution of the tissue under the electrode is affected up to depths equal to the radius of the electrode. Significance. This paper shows the importance of explicitly including electrode properties in volume conduction models for accurately interpreting ECoG measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056031
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ECoG
  • Electrode properties
  • Finite element method
  • Forward problem


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