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Published Online: 1 July 2017

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

Publication: Journal of Neurotrauma
Volume 34, Issue Number 13


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.

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Published In

cover image Journal of Neurotrauma
Journal of Neurotrauma
Volume 34Issue Number 13July 1, 2017
Pages: 2154 - 2166
PubMed: 28394205


Published in print: July 1, 2017
Published online: 1 July 2017
Published ahead of print: 10 April 2017
Published ahead of production: 16 February 2017


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Shailesh Ganpule
Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Nitin P. Daphalapurkar
Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Kaliat T. Ramesh
Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
Andrew K. Knutsen
Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland.
Dzung L. Pham
Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland.
Philip V. Bayly
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.
Jerry L. Prince
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.


Address correspondence to:Shailesh Ganpule, PhDHopkins Extreme Materials InstituteJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD 21218E-mail: [email protected]

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No competing financial interests exist.

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