Grey-box modeling and hypothesis testing of functional near-infrared spectroscopy-based cerebrovascular reactivity to anodal high-definition tDCS in healthy humans

Yashika Arora, Pushpinder Walia, Mitsuhiro Hayashibe, Makii Muthalib, Shubhajit Roy Chowdhury, Stephane Perrey, Anirban Dutta

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to evoke hemodynamics response; however, the mechanisms have not been investigated systematically using systems biology approaches. Our study presents a grey-box linear model that was developed from a physiologically detailed multi-compartmental neurovascular unit model consisting of the vascular smooth muscle, perivascular space, synaptic space, and astrocyte glial cell. Then, model linearization was performed on the physiologically detailed nonlinear model to find appropriate complexity (Akaike information criterion) to fit functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) based measure of blood volume changes, called cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), to high-definition (HD) tDCS. The grey-box linear model was applied on the fNIRS-based CVR during the first 150 seconds of anodal HD-tDCS in eleven healthy humans. The grey-box linear models for each of the four nested pathways starting from tDCS scalp current density that perturbed synaptic potassium released from active neurons for Pathway 1, astrocytic transmembrane current for Pathway 2, perivascular potassium concentration for Pathway 3, and voltage-gated ion channel current on the smooth muscle cell for Pathway 4 were fitted to the total hemoglobin concentration (tHb) changes from optodes in the vicinity of 4x1 HD-tDCS electrodes as well as on the contralateral sensorimotor cortex. We found that the tDCS perturbation Pathway 3 presented the least mean square error (MSE, median <2.5%) and the lowest Akaike information criterion (AIC, median -1.726) from the individual grey-box linear model fitting at the targeted-region. Then, minimal realization transfer function with reduced-order approximations of the grey-box model pathways was fitted to the ensemble average tHb time series. Again, Pathway 3 with nine poles and two zeros (all free parameters), provided the best Goodness of Fit of 0.0078 for Chi-Square difference test of nested pathways. Therefore, our study provided a systems biology approach to investigate the initial transient hemodynamic response to tDCS based on fNIRS tHb data. Future studies need to investigate the steady-state responses, including steady-state oscillations found to be driven by calcium dynamics, where transcranial alternating current stimulation may provide frequency-dependent physiological entrainment for system identification. We postulate that such a mechanistic understanding from system identification of the hemodynamics response to transcranial electrical stimulation can facilitate adequate delivery of the current density to the neurovascular tissue under simultaneous portable imaging in various cerebrovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1009386
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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