Model-based comparison of deep brain stimulation array functionality with varying number of radial electrodes and machine learning feature sets

Benjamin A. Teplitzky, Laura M. Zitella, Yi Zi Xiao, Matthew D. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Deep brain stimulation (DBS) leads with radially distributed electrodes have potential to improve clinical outcomes through more selective targeting of pathways and networks within the brain. However, increasing the number of electrodes on clinical DBS leads by replacing conventional cylindrical shell electrodes with radially distributed electrodes raises practical design and stimulation programming challenges. We used computational modeling to investigate: (1) how the number of radial electrodes impact the ability to steer, shift, and sculpt a region of neural activation (RoA), and (2) which RoA features are best used in combination with machine learning classifiers to predict programming settings to target a particular area near the lead. Stimulation configurations were modeled using 27 lead designs with one to nine radially distributed electrodes. The computational modeling framework consisted of a three-dimensional finite element tissue conductance model in combination with a multi-compartment biophysical axon model. For each lead design, two-dimensional threshold-dependent RoAs were calculated from the computational modeling results. The models showed more radial electrodes enabled finer resolution RoA steering; however, stimulation amplitude, and therefore spatial extent of the RoA, was limited by charge injection and charge storage capacity constraints due to the small electrode surface area for leads with more than four radially distributed electrodes. RoA shifting resolution was improved by the addition of radial electrodes when using uniform multi-cathode stimulation, but non-uniform multi-cathode stimulation produced equivalent or better resolution shifting without increasing the number of radial electrodes. Robust machine learning classification of 15 monopolar stimulation configurations was achieved using as few as three geometric features describing a RoA. The results of this study indicate that, for a clinical-scale DBS lead, more than four radial electrodes minimally improved in the ability to steer, shift, and sculpt axonal activation around a DBS lead and a simple feature set consisting of the RoA center of mass and orientation enabled robust machine learning classification. These results provide important design constraints for future development of high-density DBS arrays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 10 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Teplitzky, Zitella, Xiao and Johnson.


  • Computational modeling
  • DBS
  • DBS lead
  • DBS programing algorithms
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Machine learning
  • Neuromodulation


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