The characterization of brain tissue mechanical properties is of crucial importance in the development of realistic numerical models of the human head. While the mechanical behavior of the adult brain has been extensively investigated in several studies, there is a considerable paucity of data concerning the influence of age on mechanical properties of the brain. Therefore, the implementation of child and infant head models often involves restrictive assumptions like properties scaling from adult or animal data. The present study presents a step towards the investigation of the effects of age on viscoelastic properties of human brain tissue from a first set of dynamic oscillatory shear experiments. Tests were also performed on three different locations of brain (corona radiata, thalamus and brainstem) in order to investigate regional differences. Despite the limited number of child brain samples a significant increase in both storage and loss moduli occurring between the age of 5 months and the age of 22 months was found, confirmed by statistical Student’s t-tests (p=0.104,0.038 and0.054 for respectively corona radiata, thalamus and brain stem samples locations respectively). The adult brain appears to be 3–4 times stiffer than the young child one. Moreover, the brainstem was found to be approximately 2–3 times stiffer than both gray and white matter from corona radiata and thalamus. As a tentative conclusion, this study provides the first rheological data on the human brain at different ages and brain regions. This data could be implemented in numerical models of the human head, especially in models concerning pediatric population.
Keywords: Brain biomechanics; Viscoelasticity; Child neurotrauma