Where to go

The Imaging Research Facility MRI is located on the first floor of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Building on 10th St. Parking is offered for free at the Fee Lane Parking Garage. A map of the area is located on the Contact Us page.

What to expect

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a technique that locates where certain functions occur in the brain. As with traditional MRI, the subject lies still on a table and enters into the scanner’s imaging space so brain images can be recorded for study. In addition, fMRI requires the participant to perform a “thinking” or “physical” task while the imaging is taking place. The fMRI scan monitors changes in blood flow in the area of the brain responsible for this task.

For your comfort, we suggest the following:

Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, clothing. Sweat pants and sweat shirt are ideal, as they have no metal zippers or other fittings.

Bras that contain underwires or metal adjusters cannot be worn during the procedure. Scrubs are provided if needed.

Keep in mind that all jewelry (watches, rings, earrings, etc.) must be removed prior to scanning.

In rare cases, certain types of eye makeup – especially eye liners – may cause problems with the MR images. You may wish to come without makeup to avoid having to remove it for the scan. If you have permanent (tattooed) makeup, please inform the technologist prior to scanning as you may not be able to scan.

For several hours before you are scanned, avoid drinking coffee and other diuretics that may require you to urinate often, as you will generally not be able to use the restroom for the duration of the scan.



Typical fMRI procedures take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. During this period you must remain still on a comfortably padded table inside a large tube that is the imaging magnet. Very rarely, people feel uncomfortable, or claustrophobic, as a result of lying inside of the magnet bore. If you are concerned that this may be the case for you, please tell the investigator requesting your participation.

The nature of the task(s) you will be asked to perform depends upon the area of the brain the investigator is interested in. Common tasks are looking at changing pictures of faces, objects, patterns, or words. Sometimes responses are needed by use of a finger touchpad or joystick. The task and any responses will be explained by the investigator before the task is performed.


For your safety, the MR Technician will ask you to fill out and sign a pre-screening form upon arrival. This form will ask various questions regarding medical history involving surgeries, dental work, implants, and anything that could potentially interfere with scanning.

Because some of the requested information changes over time, a new form is required for each scan performed.

You will also be asked to sign consent forms presented by the investigator performing the study. These forms will outline the expectations of the study.

Because of the powerful magnetic field, you must not bring any metal into the instrument.

Because the noises produced by the scanner are very loud and may be a source of discomfort, all participants must wear ear plugs during scanning. Disposable ear plugs will be provided for you.