This page contains information that we would like you to be aware of before you come to the DNI as as a research participant in an MRI experiment. If you have questions about participating in the study after reading this page, please do not hesitate to contact the researcher conducting the study in which you are participating. Because research projects differ, only the researcher in charge of each particular project can answer your specific question.

You may want to know that MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a very safe technology. The only real danger comes from the strength of the magnetic field in the scanner room if certain conditions exist for a participant. This danger is easily dealt with by complying with precise exclusion criteria.

It is also important for you to know that although our research scans are not meant to be medically diagnostic, the first time that you participate in a MRI study you will be asked to give permission for us to send your brain images to a neuroradiologist affiliated with USC for review. In the rare case where there is an incidentally detected abnormality, you or your designated physician will be notified by the neuroradiologist. (If you participate in future experiments, additional medically diagnostic images will be obtained at yearly intervals.) The consent statement regarding this policy that you will be asked to sign can be found here. Please contact the researcher in charge of the experiment in which you will be participating if you have any question regarding this policy.

We will be able to provide you with the images of your brain sent for radiological review if you so desire.

If you have never been a MRI research participant before, you should know that you will have to remove all ferrous metal from your body before entering the scanner (meaning, most things that have iron in them or are attracted to magnets). A few things to consider:

  • It is a good idea not to wear eye makeup - tiny metal bits in mascara, for example, can move in the magnetic field and irritate your eyes.
  • Try wearing comfortable clothing made from natural fibers (i.e. cotton)
  • Some (mostly older) tattoos can tingle or burn with exposure to a strong magnetic field (if they have iron in the ink). We will not allow scanning if you have several such tattoos.
  • Credit cards will be well and truly erased if they are brought into the magnet room. They will have to be left outside.
  • Surgically implanted metal anywhere in your body but particularly in the head can pose a significant risk. It may constitute an exclusion factor.
  • Dental work does not usually pose problems, but if you currently are having extensive orthodontist work, you should verify with your orthodontist that it is safe in the MRI environment.

For a more detailed review of possible safety concerns, please see the official safety screening form, which you can download here. If this is your first scan, you will have to fill out the safety screening form. It saves you and the researcher time if you download it and read it ahead of time to identify if there are any items that you may circle "yes". When you arrive in the lab, you will be provided with a copy of these forms. You are encouraged to ask questions before signing the forms in the presence of the researcher at the imaging center.

Reminders for the day of the scan:

  • If you wear glasses (or contacts), you will probably need you to remove them during the actual scan. We will provide you with MR compatible glasses to wear instead. Most people find it easier to remove their glasses than to take off contact lenses at the time of the scan.
  • Please leave the eye makeup off.
  • Avoid clothing with metal on it - zippers are fine, but chains are not.
  • Some work out or yoga pants are known to have synthetic fibers that may heat up in the scanner; avoid if possible

If you have any questions, please ask the researcher responsible for the study.

  • Dana and David Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620A McClintock Ave
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061