See below for a video showing the MRI procedure, links to MRI sounds, and tips on how to practice. Please review these materials and practice at home so that you are ready for a successful MRI experience when you come to Stanford!

What to expect during your scan

You can think of an MRI scanner as a big donut turned up on its side. As the person being scanned, you are like the jelly in the middle! Before your scan we will ask you or your parent several questions to ensure the MRI scan is appropriate for you. These questions ask about any types of metal that might be in or on your body. Once we decide the scan is right for you, we will give you a change of clothes and an opportunity to change in the bathroom. After changing, you can choose the movie you want to watch during the scan, and then you and a researcher will head into the scanning room. Here we will give you ear-plugs to block out the sounds of the scanner and a few extra sensors to monitor things like your breathing and heart rate. Once you are ready, you will lie down on a moving bed topped with cushions to make you comfortable. Then we will place a helmet over your head (like an astronaut or a football player) that will help us take pictures of your brain. Next, we will add headphones so you can listen to your movie while you are in the scanner, and cushions to keep your head comfortable and help you hold still. Finally, we will slowly move the table into position. Once we begin scanning, a researcher will check in with you every 5 minutes or so to see how you are doing. Of course, you can stop the scan whenever you would like.

Home preparation and how to prepare before your visit with us

1) Watch a video that explains what to expect during your scan

Please remember that our scan takes about an hour to complete. Each set of pictures takes about 5 minutes. During the scan, you can watch anything you want from Netflix or Youtube, and we have some games for you to play as well. Also, we will provide you with a change of clothes (comfortable scrubs that will be disposed after use).

2) Listen to the types of sounds the MRI machine makes while we take pictures of brains

3) Play the Statue Game

The statue game was invented to assist you in learning how to keep still for short and long periods of time. When we scan you in the MRI, it is really important that you don't move. This includes all the parts of your body, but most importantly, your head. A grade sheet has been provided on this page (Click below for Score Sheet). Each time you keep still for the time on the grade sheet, you can color in the empty star spot. 

How to play:

  1. Lie on the floor on your back
  2. Get a friend or a family member to place the tips of their fingers just above your ears.
  3. When you are comfortable, you can start the game. Remember to keep still like a statue.
  4. Try to stay still for 1 minute, 3 minutes, and finally 7 minutes. 

The aim of the game is to keep as still as possible. This includes the whole body (from your nose to your toes). If you move, the person holding your head will make a noise (for example they might blow a whistle).

How much can you move?

You are allowed 1 move for the 1 minute trials, 2 moves for 3 minute trials, and 3 moves for 7 minute trials. If you can have those amounts of movements or less you pass that trial!

Now you're ready to start playing!

  1. Set a timer to 1 minute.
  2. When the person holding your head says go, you should keep still for 1 minute. If you kept still for the minute, you can fill in the empty space on the grading sheet and move on to the three minutes and so on.

As a parent, please email a picture of the score sheet, or a video of your child playing the statue game to

MRI simulation and how you will practice during your visit with us

What is an MRI simulator?

It is a twelve-foot mock (pretend) scanner without the magnet. Our simulator looks like a real MRI scanner so that you can become familiar with the sights, sounds, and sensations before you have your scan. We will help you further practice lying still during the MRI scan.

What will you do in the simulator?

As part of your study visit, you will have one or more simulator sessions. During your pretend scan you will get to watch a video from Netflix or Youtube while you practice holding still in our pretend scanner. We will also play the sounds an MRI makes along with the audio from the selected video to approximate what it will sound like during the actual MRI session.

We use special monitoring equipment that will track how much your head is moving. Remember, during an MRI scan you want to stay as still as possible so we can get great pictures of your brain. While practicing we will let you know if you are moving too much.

We will also ask you to practice playing the fMRI games using a remote control while sitting at a computer and possibly while lying in the simulator.

Finally, we have a Treasure Chest of prizes that you can choose from for practicing with us!