McGovern neuroscientists work with subjects of all ages and backgrounds. This page provides general information for prospective volunteers for brain imaging experiments at MIT. Additional information on specific studies will be provided by the researchers conducting the study. Research subjects receive financial compensation for participating in studies. Please join our study mailing list for opportunities to participate in behavioral and brain imaging studies at the McGovern Institute.
Please note that studies conducted at MIT are for research purposes only. Research scans are not a substitute for clinical diagnostic tests, and we cannot provide clinical advice to research subjects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do brain imaging studies take place at MIT?
How can I participate in a study?
What should I expect during my visit to MIT?
Your researcher will also ask for your informed consent to participate in the study. In accordance with federal regulations, MIT policy requires that all research subjects must give written consent before participating in any research study. The consent documents will explain the purpose of the study, the potential risks, and the ways in which the data may be used. Volunteers will have an opportunity to discuss the consent form with the researchers and to ask any questions before deciding whether to give their consent.
When the study ends, the researcher will provide you with the agreed upon compensation. Compensation varies across studies. Overall, the length of your visit will vary depending on the study you participate in, and this information will be communicated to you in advance by your researcher.
Will my information be kept private?
Is it safe to participate in an MRI study?
MRI scanners produce powerful magnetic fields that exert strong forces on any ferrous metal object. Therefore, no metal objects are allowed to enter the scanning area. Prior to the study, you will be asked to remove items of clothing with metal attachments, and hospital-style gowns will be provided instead. You will also be asked to remove metal jewelry, including body piercings. We recommend that you avoid wearing eye shadow and mascara, since some types contain materials that can interact with the magnetic field.
Some people may experience discomfort in the narrow space within the MRI machine, especially given the need to lie still for extended periods of time. The scanner can also produce loud noises during operation, which some people may find alarming. We will provide you with hearing protection in the form of ear plugs to reduce noise exposure during the scan to prevent potential hearing loss.
Is it safe to participate in an EEG or MEG study?
What should I expect during an MRI study?
Most people do not experience discomfort during the scan, but an emergency squeeze alarm is provided. If you activate the squeeze alarm, the researcher will immediately stop the experiment and bring you out of the scanner.
What should I expect during an EEG study?
What should I expect during an MEG study?
How can I prepare for a study?
Because our scanning facilities are heavily booked, it is very important to arrive at the appointed time. If you need to cancel, please inform the researcher of your study as soon as possible, so that the scanning time slot can be reallocated to another research study.
Studies vary in length and tasks. Your researcher will communicate in advance how long your visit will last, and what kinds of tasks you will be asked to perform. For example, some studies require completing behavioral tasks in front of a computer screen in addition to the brain imaging session.
On the day of the study, we recommend that you wear layers, as the temperature of the imaging facility cannot be adjusted. For EEG studies that involve fitting the recording electrodes to the scalp, we recommend clothes that can be removed without being pulled over the head (e.g., cardigan or sweatshirt with zipper).
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your participation in a study, be sure to contact your researcher in advance to the day of the study.
What should I expect when my child participates in a study?
During an EEG study, your child will sit inside the recording booth, with an audio/video connection to you and the researchers outside. Young children may be accompanied by a researcher inside the booth.
We strive to provide a comfortable and relaxing environment for our young subjects and their families. A play area is provided and at the end of the session your child will also receive a picture of his/her own brain.