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The National Institute of Mental Health archives materials that are over 4 years old and no longer being updated. The content on this page is provided for historical reference purposes only and may not reflect current knowledge or information.

Introduction to the MRI Scanner



We are so grateful for your participation in our research study!

Researchers use an MRI scanning machine to take pictures of the brain because it can reveal more information and help us learn more about certain conditions. This video is a sneak peek at what it’s like to get an MRI scan.

Here is a control room, which is right next door to the MRI scanner. When you are in the MRI scanner, we will use computers to take pictures of your brain. We will be able to talk with you and will be watching you the entire time on a big TV screen and through a window.

Many kids have been in an MRI scanner for research. Before you enter the scanner room, you will take off your shoes and any watches, bracelets, or other metal on your body. You will lie down on the MRI bed and wear ear plugs. The ear plugs help make the MRI’s humming noises quieter. Some people say the noises sound like clicking or banging when it is taking the pictures of your brain.

Next, a researcher will slide something that looks like a football helmet over your head. The helmet has a mirror so you can see the movie screen at the back of the scanner. You can also have a blanket to feel more comfortable.

Once you are all set, the researcher will slide the bed into the MRI scanner. When the MRI is not taking pictures of your brain, you might hear the researcher talking to you.

During the scans, we will show you a movie. You will only be able to see the movie--you won’t be able to hear it, and you probably won’t be able to finish the entire movie. There’s not enough time in the scanner for that! Also, for about 15 minutes, you will look at a white plus sign instead of the movie.

The scanning takes a total of 90 minutes, made up of scans that are between 1 and 10 minutes each, with short breaks in between. If you need a break during the scans, you can always tell the researchers.

For the break, you can get up and walk around, stretch, or use the restroom. And, during the study visit you may see or meet with members of our research staff.

Some of our staff that you may see are: Dr. Armin Raznahan, the researcher who heads up this study. Jonathan Blumenthal, a research psychologist who organizes the study, Erin Torres, a nurse practitioner who will do your physical and other assessments, Dr. François Lalonde, a psychologist who works with brain MRI scanning, Dr. Liv Clasen, a psychologist who also manages the data; Research assistants: Allysa Warling, Ethan Whitman, and Kathleen Wilson; And neuropsychologists Dr. Lauren Kenworthy, Dr. Srishti Rau, Dr. Kim Schauder, Dr. Christy Casnar.

Thank you for participating!