Integrating material properties from magnetic resonance elastography into subject-specific computational models for the human brain

Ahmed Alshareef, Andrew K. Knutsen, Curtis L. Johnson, Aaron Carass, Kshitiz Upadhyay, Philip V. Bayly, Dzung L. Pham, Jerry L. Prince, K. T. Ramesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Advances in brain imaging and computational methods have facilitated the creation of subject-specific computational brain models that aid researchers in investigating brain trauma using simulated impacts. The emergence of magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) as a non-invasive mechanical neuroimaging tool has enabled in vivo estimation of material properties at low-strain, harmonic loading. An open question in the field has been how this data can be integrated into computational models. The goals of this study were to use a novel MRI dataset acquired in human volunteers to generate models with subject-specific anatomy and material properties, and then to compare simulated brain deformations to subject-specific brain deformation data under non-injurious loading. Models of five subjects were simulated with linear viscoelastic (LVE) material properties estimated directly from MRE data. Model predictions were compared to experimental brain deformation acquired in the same subjects using tagged MRI. Outcomes from the models matched the spatial distribution and magnitude of the measured peak strain components as well as the 95th percentile in-plane peak strains within 0.005 mm/mm and maximum principal strain within 0.012 mm/mm. Sensitivity to material heterogeneity was also investigated. Simulated brain deformations from a model with homogenous brain properties and a model with brain properties discretized with up to ten regions were very similar (a mean absolute difference less than 0.0015 mm/mm in peak strains). Incorporating material properties directly from MRE into a biofidelic subject-specific model is an important step toward future investigations of higher-order model features and simulations under more severe loading conditions. Statement of Significance: The study presents a method to calibrate and evaluate subject-specific finite element brain models using a combination of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. The imaging data is acquired in human volunteers and includes anatomical MRI, magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), and tagged MRI to generate subject-specific geometry, calibrate subject-specific material properties, and evaluate simulation response using subject-specific brain deformation. This dataset of MRE and tagged MRI allows for a unique evaluation of whether material properties from MRE can be used to create biofidelic computational models of the human brain. The study develops a calibration procedure to readily calculate linear viscoelastic material parameters from MRE data and then provides a sensitivity study of the effect of mechanical heterogeneity of the brain on simulation response. The calibrated computational models are used to simulate each subject's tagged MRI experiment; the results show good agreement between the simulated and experimental strain fields. The presented study and results will be informative in guiding the calibration of subject-specific computational brain model from experimental MRE data. The processed MRI, MRE, and tagged MRI data are publicly available at

Original languageEnglish
Article number100038
JournalBrain Multiphysics
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Brain deformation
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Model evaluation
  • Subject-specific models


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