In traumatic brain injury (TBI), membranes such as the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater play a vital role in transmitting motion from the skull to brain tissue. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is an imaging technique developed for noninvasive estimation of soft tissue material parameters. In MRE, dynamic deformation of brain tissue is induced by skull vibrations during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); however, skull motion and its mode of transmission to the brain remain largely uncharacterized. In this study, displacements of points in the skull, reconstructed using data from an array of MRI-safe accelerometers, were compared to displacements of neighboring material points in brain tissue, estimated from MRE measurements. Comparison of the relative amplitudes, directions, and temporal phases of harmonic motion in the skulls and brains of six human subjects shows that the skull–brain interface significantly attenuates and delays transmission of motion from skull to brain. In contrast, in a cylindrical gelatin “phantom,” displacements of the rigid case (reconstructed from accelerometer data) were transmitted to the gelatin inside (estimated from MRE data) with little attenuation or phase lag. This quantitative characterization of the skull–brain interface will be valuable in the parameterization and validation of computer models of TBI.

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