What is fMRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the tools that we use to study the brain. The little “f” of fMRI means “functional” – we can measure brain activity while you (or your child) are watching a movie or playing a game.

Magnetic Resonance scans are non-invasive and do not cause any harm. FMRI allows us to see which brain regions are more active than others by detecting changes in oxygen levels in blood vessels throughout the brain. 

It is important to note that an MRI scanner is a very powerful magnet that can get quite loud. We will ask our participants to remove anything metallic from their bodies, such as watches and jewelry. We will also provide earplugs and cushions around the head so that participants are comfortable while in the scanner.

Q: What is a mock scanner?

A: On your first visit, we will have your child practice lying in the scanner in a simulated MR environment – in our “mock scanner” system. It is a wooden model of an MRI scanner. In the mock scanner, your child can learn what it is like to be in the scanner and get used to scanner noises.

Q: What should your child do on the day of the MRI scan?

A: We recommend getting a good night's sleep before coming for the actual MRI session. Please make sure that your child wears metal-free shirts (zippers or buttons on jeans are fine).

Q: Why does your child have to lie still in the MRI scanner?

A: We are taking pictures of the brain. If your child moves in the scanner, the brain picture will be blurry. We always have our kid participants practice lying in the scanner before we proceed to the actual MRI session.

Q: Why does your child have to wear earplugs?

A: MRI scanners make loud knocking noises. We ask our participants (and visitors staying in the scanner room during an MRI session) to wear earplugs for ear protection. We also have more cushions and headphones to help muffle the sound.