An Indirect Indentation Method for Evaluating the Linear Viscoelastic Properties of the Brain Tissue

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Indentation experiments offer a robust, fast, and repeatable testing method for evaluating the mechanical properties of the solid-state materials in a wide stiffness range. With the advantage of requiring a minimal sample preparation and multiple tests on a small piece of specimen, this method has recently become a popular technique for measuring the elastic properties of the biological materials, especially the brain tissue whose ultrasoft nature makes its mechanical characterization very challenging. Nevertheless, some limitations are associated with the indentation of the brain tissue, such as improper surface detection, negative initial contact force due to tip-tissue moisture interaction, and partial contact between the tip and the sample. In this study, an indirect indentation scheme is proposed to overcome the aforementioned difficulties. In this way, the indentation force is transferred from a sharp tip to the surface of the tissue slices via a rigid coverslip. To demonstrate the accuracy of this method, the linear viscoelastic properties of the white and gray matters of the bovine brain samples are measured by imposing small cyclic loads at different frequencies. The rate, regional, directional, and postmortem time dependence of the viscoelastic moduli are investigated and compared with the previous results from cyclic shear and monotonic experiments on the brain tissue. While findings of this research present a comprehensive set of information for the viscoelastic properties of the brain at a wide frequency range, the central goal of this paper is to introduce a novel experimentation technique with noticeable advantages for biomechanical characterization of the soft tissue.

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Journal of biomechanical engineering

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