Diffusion weighted imaging based on random Brownian motion of water molecules within a voxel provides information on the micro-structure of biological tissues through water molecule diffusivity. As the electrical conductivity is primarily determined by the concentration and mobility of ionic charge carriers, the macroscopic electrical conductivity of biological tissues is also related to the diffusion of electrical ions. This paper aims to investigate the low-frequency electrical conductivity by relying on a pre-defined biological model that separates the brain into the intracellular (restricted) and extracellular (hindered) compartments. The proposed method uses B1 mapping technique, which provides a high-frequency conductivity distribution at Larmor frequency, and the spherical mean technique, which directly estimates the microscopic tissue structure based on the water molecule diffusivity and neurite orientation distribution. The total extracellular ion concentration, which is separated from the high-frequency conductivity, is recovered using the estimated diffusivity parameters and volume fraction in each compartment. We propose a method to reconstruct the low-frequency dominant conductivity tensor by taking into consideration the extracted extracellular diffusion tensor map and the reconstructed electrical parameters. To demonstrate the reliability of the proposed method, we conducted two phantom experiments. The first one used a cylindrical acrylic cage filled with an agar in the background region and four anomalies for the effect of ion concentration on the electrical conductivity. The other experiment, in which the effect of ion mobility on the conductivity was verified, used cell-like materials with thin insulating membranes suspended in an electrolyte. Animal and human brain experiments were conducted to visualize the low-frequency dominant conductivity tensor images. The proposed method using a conventional MRI scanner can predict the internal current density map in the brain without directly injected external currents.
- Extracellular volume fraction
- Low-frequency conductivity tensor imaging
- Magnetic resonance electrical properties tomography
- Multi-compartment model
- Spherical mean technique