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What exactly is this brain scanner ?

The complicated name for what our 'brain camera' or 'brain scanner' does is 'functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging' (fMRI). It mainly uses magnets and computers to take pictures of the brain. However, for the pictures to be clear, you will have to lie very still while the camera is working.

How long will it take?

You will be at the GaabLab for about 2-2.5 hours, so there will be enough time for you to become comfortable with the scanner. You will help us take pictures of our assistant Froggy's brain. That way you will know exactly what to expect and can also take him into the scanner with you. You will only spend about 30-45min in the scanner.

Is it safe?

Yes, MRI is completely safe and painless. You will only notice that we are taking pictures of your brain because the scanner makes a knocking and beeping sound. Therefore, your ears will be protected by earplugs.

Can anybody have an fMRI scan?

Most people can have an fMRI scan. However, if you have metal in your body, you cannot participate. Such metal includes:

  • dental braces
  • permanent dental retainers
  • cochlear implant
  • aneurysm clip
  • metal fragments in the eye
  • shrapnel
  • neurostimulator
  • cardiac pacemaker

Can somebody else be in the scanner with me?

Yes, one researcher will be right next to you the entire time. Your Mom and/or Dad will be able to see everything through a big window. We will also give you a button to press in case you ever feel uncomfortable. In addition, you will be able to talk to us and hear us through headphones.

What kind of clothing should I wear?

You should wear metal-free, comfortable clothing, like a t-shirt and sweatpants. We can also always provide you with a gown and we have a comfortable blanket if you feel cold.

Do I need to bring anything?

No, we will give you anything you need, including headphones, earplugs, and a gown or blanked if you need them. If you get hungry or thirsty, we will also have little snacks.

Can I wear glasses?

If you have glasses with metal frames, we can provide you with glasses with plastic frames that you can wear as long as you are in the scanner. In that case, we ask you to bring along the prescription information for your glasses, so we can give you the right ones.

More questions?

Please email: gaablab@tch.harvard.edu

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This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

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