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MRI Info for Families

Participating in an MRI study

The Mattfeld Laboratory at FIU makes it a priority to ensure that children and their families have an easy, comfortable, and fun time while participating in MRI studies.

Before the study begins, you can practice in our mock MRI scanner. The mock scanner looks and sounds like a real MRI machine, but does not actually take pictures of your brain. The mock scanner will allow you to practice lying still so that the researchers can get nice clear brain pictures.

After you practice lying in the scanner, the researchers will let you practice the task that you will be doing in the real MRI machine. You might listen to sounds, play games, watch movies, or look at pictures.

After you have practiced each part of the study, we will get ready to enter the scanner. We have a special metal detector wand to make sure there is no metal in your clothes, because the MRI is a big magnet!

Our team will help you get comfortable. It can get a little chilly in the scanner room, so we will give you a blanket to keep you warm. Once you are comfortable in the scanner, the researchers will start taking pictures of your brain! You will play the game you practiced before, and watch a movie while we take more brain pictures.

Questions and Answers:

Q: Is MRI Safe?
A: All brain measures taken at the imaging facility are acquired in a manner that is very safe for both children and adults. MRI does not involve radiation or injections, so the procedure is completely non-invasive. Generally speaking, MRI is a very safe and comfortable procedure that is used widely throughout the world! You may be worried that your child will not like being in an MRI scanner, but we practice with every child in our fake scanner before any real scanning is actually done.

Q: Is it convenient?
A: The entire procedure is designed to be convenient for both children and adults. There is free parking in the same building as the Center for Imaging Sciences right on the main FIU campus.

Q: Why should I volunteer?
A: The volunteers who come and get their brains scanned are what drive our research. Without them, it would be incredibly hard to make any advances in our field. We simply wouldn’t know anything about the brain and how it works.

Q: Do families have a good time?
A: We try to make the experience fun throughout. We make it fun by creating our tasks to resemble games. There are different kinds of games to be played – some are good for younger kids and some are good for older kids. The goal is present both parents and children with a fun learning opportunity and a pleasant easy-going environment.

Q: When can we come in?
A: We can accommodate family schedules in many different ways. We have appointments available on weekends, after school, and during vacation. We love to have people come into the lab. Parents and children who have come in for MRI studies have a lot to say about what a positive experience it is.

Credit: Dr. John Gabrieli
Gabrieli Lab