Preparing for an MRI Scan

We know that an MRI can be intimidating at first! That is why Stanford Girl BAND study offers comprehensive MRI preparation to make sure all our participants are ready and have a great experience in the MRI scanner! This involves practice both at home and here at Stanford.

Every MRI participant has the chance to become familiar with the MRI procedures in an educational and relaxing environment (and earn some rewards along the way!). Our complete range of services includes the use of an MRI simulator, motion evaluation, pre-MRI touring, and informational resources. We invite you to learn more about what we do here.

This website contains links to MRI sounds, a video showing the MRI procedure, 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!


Home Preparation

You can set yourself up for a successful MRI visit before you even arrive at Stanford! Here are some things we would like for you to start practicing at home:

1) Watch the “Getting Ready for Your MRI” video

2) Listen to types of sounds that an MRI machine can make. There are seven different tracks that you can click on and listen to below:

3) Practice playing 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 Grade Sheet). Each time you keep still for the time on the grade sheet, you can place a shiny star or color in the empty star spot. 

  1. First, put your name on the grade sheet. 
  2. Lie on the floor on your back (like the photo below). 
  3. Get a friend or a family member to place the tips of their fingers just above your ears.
  4. When you are comfortable, you can the start the game remember to keep still like a statue

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 (e.g. like blow a whistle). You are allowed one move for the one minute, two moves for three minutes; three moves for five minutes and five moves for ten minutes.

OK, you are 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.

Download a grade sheet

Simulator Practice

The MRI simulator is the next step between at-home practice and the real MRI machine! The simulator looks and feels a lot like the MRI, and you will get to practice putting in your earplugs, putting your head in the tunnel, and of course staying still!

When you come for your visit we will practice several times in the simulator to get you used to what it will be like in the actual MRI. These practices work best when combined with our in-home MRI prep before you arrive.


Here is someone getting ready to go into the simulator.

1) First, she sits on the bed and puts on earplugs and headphones so that she can hear the sound to the movie that she chose.



2) Next, she lies down on the bed with her head in the practice head coil. This is the piece that will take the brain pictures in the real MRI machine. She gets to watch whatever movie she has picked out for herself, as long as she stays still!

3) You will wear a special headband to show us how still you are in the MRI simulator. It is important to practice staying still so that we can get a good picture of your brain!




This is what it looks like when you are moving! Remember, even wiggling your toes or your fingers can make your head move a little bit.


This is what it looks like when you are keeping perfectly still! This means that you are ready for the MRI.


During the MRI

With all this practice, once it is time for your MRI, you’ll be an expert! There are a few last steps before we can take a picture of your brain:

1) Take out any earrings—metal isn’t good for our MRI machine.

2) Change into scrubs. Scrubs are kind of like blue pajamas. This is so that you are comfortable during the MRI. Everyone wears the same thing during their MRI.

3) Pick your favorite movie or show to watch in the MRI. We want you to have fun!

After you are all ready to go, you will be in the MRI machine for about 40 minutes—that’s just enough time for a TV show! Remember, just like in the simulator it is important to stay as still as you can.

Just like when you move when taking a picture with a camera, if you move during the MRI, it can make your brain pictures turn out blurry! Look at these brain pictures and try to guess who stayed still and who moved!