Mathematical modeling of fluid flow in the brain

In this project we will use numerical simulations (finite element method) to understand fluid patterns in and around the brain. You will work with detailed meshes of the human brain and investigate different theories on fluid flow and transport in the brain related to diseases such as Alzheimer's and Hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus (water-on-the head) is a disease characterized by an accumulation of water inside the (ventricles of the) brain. However, despite large displacement and strains on the brain, the pressure is not increased in these patients. Several hypotheses have been suggested, but the mechanism behind the development of the disease is still unknown.


In this work, we will use finite element simulations with python to investigate fluid flow and transport within the brain. We will test different hypotheses to explain causes and suggest potential treatments for patients with hydrocephalus.

Learning outcome

  • High resolution, high performance finite element simulations in python (and FEniCS).
  • Working with real data, thus learning how to manage and handle large data sets.
  • Apply theoretical skills to real (medical) problems.


Bachelor in Mathematics, physics, bio engineering or computer science. Some knowledge about partial differential equations is preferred.


  • Kent-André Mardal
  • Vegard Vinje

Collaboration partners

Umeå University (Sweden)


1) CSF circulation and dispersion yield rapid clearance from intracranial compartments

2) Human intracranial pulsatility during the cardiac 2 cycle: a computational modelling framework

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