About MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging

What Is an MRI Scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a way to take pictures of your brain by using a magnet. There are two main forms of MRI. Structural MRI tells us the shape and size of your brain. Functional MRI shows us what different parts of your brain are doing when you complete a task, such as reading, or looking at pictures. Both types use a magnet to collect data, and a computer interprets the data to create images of your brain. Researchers can use both types of scans together to learn as much information as possible.

Is MRI Safe?

A MRI scan is very safe. There is no radiation involved, and it does not hurt. The only risk is if you have metal – because the machine is a magnet, it will attract all metal, so we make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets or your hair. All of our research team has used the MRI many times, has been trained on how to use the machine, and follows detailed rules to make sure no metal is present. We will ask you a lot of questions to ensure your safety. Thousands of children and adults have received MRI scans safely.

What Is It Like in the Scanner?

You will lay on a padded table to go into the machine, which looks like a tunnel. It may feel like a small space – we will make sure you’re comfortable. The machine can be pretty loud, so we will ask you to wear earphones. You will hear noises that sound like knocking.

While you are in the scanner, it is important that you are very still so that we can get good pictures of your brain. There will be a small screen where we will show you pictures, or instructions.

The scan will take about an hour. If you get tired or uncomfortable, you can ask to come out of the scanner anytime. We can also see you and talk with you during the scan.

What Will You Do With the Information From My Scan?

The results we get from your scan will help us answer questions about pain and the brain in developing children and adolescents. Your personal information – such as your name or other identifiers – will not be included in our results. Instead, we combine all the data together into groups to analyze.

It’s also important to know that these are research scans, which are different from clinical scans. We can’t use this information to make a diagnosis.

Where Will the Scan Take Place?