General Information for fMRI Participants
Is it safe?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is very safe as the magnetic field has no adverse effect on biological tissue (unlike X-ray or PET). However, working in the presence of a strong magnetic field requires constant viligence to ensure that no ferromagnetic objects enter the scanner room, as they will be pulled toward the centre of the bore with great force. We must fully comply with all safety and screening procedures. The first important question is whether someone is eligible for fMRI procedure.
Eligibility for participation:
In general, most people can do fMRI studies. Here we highlight the most common scenarios under which someone might be excluded from participation.
- You should not move in the scanner. Even small movements are bad for fMRI data (millimeter matters). So we would like someone who can remain still for a while.
- You cannot be claustrophobic. Half of your body will be in a tube (~ 3ft diameter). If you’re afraid of small spaces this is not for you. In addition, the MRI machine makes (somewhat) loud noises during scanning. You will wear earplugs to dampen the sound level. Most people find this benign; but if you are sensitive to noise this might not be for you.
- You cannot have certain metal implants in your body (e.g., pacemakers, aneurysm clips). They may either malfunction within the magnetic field and/or affect our data. Here is a standard MR screening form we use. Take a look and see if you have any of those listed. Not all metals are contraindication (e.g., dental fillings are mostly fine), if you have questions please ask us.
- If you need corrective lenses, there are two options. You can either wear contacts (if you have them), or wear the MR-compatible lenses available at the imaging center. But keep in mind that the latter option is only available for -7 to +7 diopter, in 0.5 increments, and there is no correction for astigmatism.
- You need to be between 18 to 45 years old. This is due to the nature of our research questions.
- We’d appreciate if you could be conscientious about study appointments. It costs us a lot of money to use the MRI scanner so we need you to be on time for the scanning appointment.
- You often need to perform psychophysical tasks at threshold. This is not conceptually difficult (e.g., unlike mental arithmetic), but still could be difficult (perceptually). So we would like someone who can concentrate and attend–we study attention.
- Scheduling: we can always work around your schedule for behavioral training in our lab. However, for MRI sessions in Radiology, we can only perform experiments during normal business hours (M-F, 9-5). You need to have some free time during those hours. We don’t have a fixed schedule/time to run experiments, as we will try to fit your schedule, our schedule, and scanner availability (it’s a shared equipment). For each session, we will make an appointment with you beforehand to ensure it’s Ok with you.