MRI Experience

What is having a scan like?

We would first will get in touch with you and your family to check if it would be safe for you to take part. If it is, and you and your family agree to take part, we will invite you to come to Oxford to the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging for your MRI scan. We’ll ask you to answer some questions to make sure it’s safe for you to be scanned.



Before the scan, we ask everyone to change into a pyjama-style top and trousers, and remove any metal objects (such as earrings or a watch).

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Our volunteer Abby wearing her scan ‘pyjamas’



You will then go to the scanner room. The scanner looks like a large box with a tube through the middle. You will lie on a bed and we will put a helmet around your head.  The bed then moves you into the middle of the scanner. There is a mirror on top of the helmet so you can see out and watch a movie.




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Abby with her ‘helmet’ on


While we take the pictures of your brain, you can watch a movie of your choice.  Sometimes we will ask you to listen to sounds, look at pictures on the screen and press buttons.  These tasks are easy to do and we will explain them to you.





MRI scans can be noisy, but we will give you headphones to make it quieter. You can hear us through the headphones and we can hear you when you want to speak to us. You will also be given a call button to hold during the scan, and you can use this to let us know if you want to speak to us.  The researcher will be on the other side of a window just outside the scanner room.


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Nico, our scan operator, makes sure that Abby feels comfortable


So that we can get nice clear pictures, we will ask you to keep very still and try not to move your head. We will also make sure that you are as comfortable as possible by putting cushions around your head and under your legs, and a blanket if you want it.




We take lots of different pictures and each one takes about 10 minutes.  You can speak to us in between and take breaks whenever you wish.  If you want to stop the scan and come out, you can press an alarm and we will take you out straight away.




Ready to go!