An MRI is a large magnet. In an fMRI experiment, the scanner allows us to take pictures of your brain while you are playing a game or preforming a task.

We take 32 pictures ever 2/2.5 seconds! (one whole brain set)

We look at blood oxygenation changes over time. This indicates the levels of neural activity.

Now we can look at the timecourse of activations,

and learn what parts of the brain are used when a participant is performing a task!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are MRIs safe?

As long as you are properly screened for implants or metal in your body MRIs are perfectly safe. As long as you do not have metal on or near your body that can heat up or move, the only other danger is if someone brings metal in to the MRI room. However we take precautions to prevent that, like asking all patients to change out of their street clothes and fill out metal screening forms.

Will I be exposed to radiation?

You will not be exposed to ionized radiation, like the type of radiation in X-rays that can damage DNA if you’re exposed too much. MRIs use magnetic fields and radio wave frequencies to create images, and there is no evidence to suggest this can cause cancer.

I have a joint replacement can I have an MRI?

Most likely, yes! Since the regular use of MRIs the medical community has worked to make sure surgical implants are MRI safe as much as possible. Some medical implants are not MRI safe like aneurysm clips or pacemakers, but we will do a thorough screening to make sure you are safe to participate in MRI.

How long will I be in the MRI?

Depends on the study. It can be 30 minutes to several hours. Speak with your researcher to learn more.

Is the MRI comfortable?

Depends on the person. We do everything we can to make you comfortable with pillows, pads, blankets and even movies! However, an MRI is shaped like a donut and you go in the middle, which many find is a narrow space. People can find themselves feeling claustrophobic, have limbs fall asleep, muscle cramps, or just plain bored from having to lay so still. We will do everything we can to help you feel comfortable, but you can choose to stop at any time, or we may decide that the best thing for you is to end the session early.

What should I wear?

We have a new policy that requires all participants to change into provided scrubs or hospital gowns. We do not provide underwear, so please wear cotton. Most importantly do not wear any fabrics that have anti-microbial properties, these often contain micro-threads made of metal that can heat up and cause severe burns.

We provide a locker for your belongings, but recommend you leave anything important at home if possible.

My wedding ring won’t come off my finger, is that ok?

As long as we’re not doing an MRI of your hand it will not effect your imaging. The MRI can cause rings to vibrate, which is safe but can be annoying.

I’m pregnant, can I have an MRI?

MRIs without contrast are safe for pregnant women and the fetus. Contrast is an injection that enhances images and does come with risks. If the study is not specifically about pregnant women or their fetus, they will not enroll pregnant women because they are considered a protected population.

Other questions?

Please email your study coordinator or Alana McMichael at amcmich@wustl.edu to ask any questions you have!