Participating in our fMRI experiments

Participating in a neuroscience experiment can be an interesting experience. You will have the opportunity to see how Neuroscience research is conducted in a research university and also you will be reimbursed at least 50TL for your participation and upon your request, we may share a picture of your brain.

Below, you can find information and guidelines on participating fMRI experiments, and some suggestions if you are a first time participant.

Contrary to the belief of general public, the MRI machine does not emit radiation. And there are no known harmful effects of taking an MRI scan.

Participation criteria:

  • Being 18-65 years old.
  • Being a right-handed person (exceptions can be made depending on the study of interest).
  • Having normal or corrected to normal vision.
    • We have MRI compatible glasses up to power -5.0 for those who wear glasses. Otherwise, participants must bring their own contact lenses to the experiment.
  • People who do not have any neurological disease or a history of epilepsy.
  • People who have not done metalworking or a related job.
  • People who do not have metallic implants (pacemakers, drug pumps, prosthesis, braces).
  • Participants who do not have residual metals from surgeries (stent or from an accident (bullet etc.).
  • Participants who wear piercings, earrings or similar metal accessories on their body should be able to remove them before entering the MRI scanner. Ideally, you should remove them before coming to our experiment to save time.
  • People who do not have amalgam dental fillings at their upper jaw.
    • If you are in doubt, please check with your dentist.
  • For women, individuals who are not pregnant or those who do not have suspicion of pregnancy.
  • For women, individuals who do not have IUDs implanted (intrauterine device).
  • People who do not fear of staying inside enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) for a long duration of time (~1 hour).
  • Bilkent students who wish to participate should not be taking a course from the Principle Investigator, Ausaf Ahmed Farooqui.

Is there anything I need to know before coming for my scan?

Things to pay attention to before attending an fMRI experiment:

  • Do not wear clothes which contain any metal accessories on them.
  • We prefer if you are well-rested and not sleepy when you attend the experiment. Let us know if you could not get your sleep. We can re-book the session.
  • We also recommend you to wear comfortable clothes because you will need to stand still inside the scanner for sometime.
  • Ensure that your underwear does not have any metal clips or other metallic accessories. For example, metal in bra clips can heat up and cause discomfort.
  • If you wear piercings, necklaces or earrings or other accessories, remove them before coming to our experiment.
  • Please do not wear makeup while coming for the scan. You may be asked to clear your makeup as some makeup components contain metals in it.
  • If you wear a head scarf, please wear the type of head scarf which you will be able to rest your hair on your shoulder or keep your hair in such a way that it is not banded behind your head. Also please do not use any pins or needles.

Congratulations!!! If this is your very first time participating in an fMRI experiment, it is highly recommended to read this guide below. And even if it’s not your first, you could still read it to learn something new!

What is fMRI?

Do you want to know what happens during an fMRI scan? You can watch this 5 minute video to have an overall idea:

f(unctional) M(agnetic) R(esonance) I(maging) is a non-invasive imaging modality which allows researchers to examine the brain activity as a subject partakes in an experiment. It is very similar to regular MRI scans which are taken in hospitals for diagnostic purposes. The only difference is that the scanner is running a different program which allows us to see your brain activity. Isn’t that cool? You will lie on your back on a movable table that slides into a cylinder which bears a very strong magnet. The MRI scanner will take snapshots of the brain activity by tracking the blood-oxygenation level in the brain as you do the experiment.

Your arrival to UMRAM

Do you need directions to UMRAM? Click here if you don’t know how to go to UMRAM.

Once you come to UMRAM, sometimes the entrance doors may be locked, if they are, you can contact the person who booked the experiment so that they can welcome you.

Once you meet your experimenter, you will be given a few forms and paperwork to sign for screening purposes. After you sign the forms, the experimenter will make you practice the experiment and then prepare you for the fMRI scan. MRI machines can make loud noises. For your comfort, we will provide earplugs.

Moving inside the scanner

You will be positioned inside the scanner laying on your back and we will place your head inside a head coil. We will place soft foam around your head to safely snuggle and stabilize your head. Don’t worry, it will be comfortable! One important factor with MRI scans in general, which also applies for fMRI scans is movement. Once you are stabilized, it is very important that you do not move while the scanner is running (when the scanner is making any noise). This is because even very little movement affects the quality of the images the machine produces. We will talk with you through the intercom between sessions so if you feel uncomfortable with your position, you can ask us for repositioning. But please only move when the scanner is not running and please inform us before moving. We will try our best to ensure that you are in a more comfortable position, without sacrificing from quality images.

Withdrawing from the experiment.

There is no reason for you to feel apprehension or stress due to your fMRI scan. We will do our best to make the process enjoyable for you. However, if you feel discomfort or feel like there is something wrong going on, we will also give you an emergency buzzer which you can squeeze to stop the scan immediately.

If you wish to no longer participate, you will always have the option to withdraw from the experiment completely.

Where is the cool part?

Once the scan is over, you will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your internal brain anatomy. If you wish, by signing a specific form you can also request us to share your anatomical images.

EPI images generated from one of our fMRI scans.
An anatomical T1 image generated from one of our MRI scans.