Are in vivo and in situ brain tissues mechanically similar?

Amit Gefen*, Susan S. Margulies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain tissue mechanical properties have been well-characterized in vitro, and were found to be inhomogeneous, nonlinear anisotropic and influenced by neurological development and postmortem time interval prior to testing. However, brain in vivo is a vascularized tissue, and there is a paucity of information regarding the effect of perfusion on brain mechanical properties. Furthermore, mechanical properties are often extracted from preconditioned tissue, and it remains unclear if these properties are representative of non-preconditioned tissue. We present non-preconditioned (NPC) and preconditioned (PC) relaxation responses of porcine brain (N = 10) obtained in vivo, in situ and in vitro, at anterior, mid and posterior regions of the cerebral cortex during 4mm indentations at either 3 or 1mm/s. Material property characteristics showed no dependency on the site tested, thus revealing that cortical gray matter on the parietal and frontal lobes can be considered homogenous. In most cases, preconditioning decreased the shear moduli, with a more pronounced effect in the dead (in situ and in vitro) brain. For most conditions, it was found that only the long-term time constant of relaxation (τ > 20 s) significantly decreased from in vivo to in situ modes (p<0.02), and perfusion had no effect on any other property. These findings support the concept that perfusion does not affect the stiffness of living cortical tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1352
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Brain injury
  • Constitutive properties
  • Indentation
  • Shear modulus
  • Stress relaxation
  • Viscoelasticity


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