MRI Research

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

An MRI is a large magnetic tube that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make pictures of body tissues. The MRI scan is non-invasive and does not involve any harmful radiation.  

What does an MRI entail?

If you decide to get an MRI scan for our study, we will have you change into medical scrubs and give you earplugs. We will place your head in a helmet attached to the bed and attach a pulse monitor and breathing monitor to your body. You will lie down on a bed that will be lifted and brought into the tube part (the "bore") of the scanner. Then you will lie in the machine while it takes pictures of your brain. While the scan is working, you may be asked to do specific things like look at pictures and press buttons, or just rest while staying awake. For other parts of the scan you will be free to do things like watch movies, listen to music, or nap.

What are the risks?

  • Projectiles:  Because the magnet strength is very strong, objects with magnetic properties can be pulled into the magnet and turn into projectiles. To minimize this risk we make sure that subjects remove all metallic items (watches, cell phones, hair pins, etc.) prior to entering the scanner. 
  • Claustrophobia:  The scanner is a long narrow tube that may cause some people to feel claustrophobic.  
  • Hearing Damage:  The noise generated by the operation of the scanner during a study is loud enough to cause hearing damage if you do not wear hearing protection. Our ear plugs are capable of preventing this risk. Hearing protection is required and is provided by the research team.
  • Nerve Stimulation:  Some people experience localized tingling, twitching, or muscle contractions during MRI scans. This is expected, but if it is uncomfortable please notify the research team.
  • Disruption of Medical Devices:  Some medical devices can be damaged by magnetic fields and should not be brought into the scanner room. This includes some implanted devices such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, insulin pumps, nerve stimulators, etc. If you have any implanted device, please notify the research team.
  • Heating of Materials:  The radiofrequency waves used in MRI can heat conductive materials such as metal implants (screws, plates, rods, wires, artificial joints, etc.), certain tattoo inks, certain clothing fabrics, jewelry, medication patches, wigs, etc. You will be asked to remove these items if possible. If they cannot be removed, we will request further information (for example from your medical records) to allow the research team to decide if it will be safe to proceed with the scan.