Deformation of the human brain was measured in tagged magnetic resonance images (MRI) obtained dynamically during angular acceleration of the head. This study was undertaken to provide quantitative experimental data to illuminate the mechanics of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mild angular acceleration was imparted to the skull of a human volunteer inside an MR scanner, using a custom MR-compatible device to constrain motion. A grid of MR "tag" lines was applied to the MR images via spatial modulation of magnetization (SPAMM) in a fast gradient echo imaging sequence. Images of the moving brain were obtained dynamically by synchronizing the imaging process with the motion of the head. Deformation of the brain was characterized quantitatively via Lagrangian strain. Consistent patterns of radial-circumferential shear strain occur in the brain, similar to those observed in models of a viscoelastic gel cylinder subjected to angular acceleration. Strain fields in the brain, however, are clearly mediated by the effects of heterogeneity, divisions between regions of the brain (such as the central fissure and central sulcus) and the brain's tethering and suspension system, including the dura mater, falx cerebri, and tentorium membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-315
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Angular acceleration
  • Brain deformation
  • Brain trauma
  • Head injury
  • MRI
  • Strain


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