For Participants


MRI Studies

Who is Eligible?

Please review our research page to check for current studies.


Listen to the sounds of the MRI!

MRI Sounds - Grant Lab
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Child-Friendly MRI Cartoon

Questions About MRI Studies


Is MRI safe?

Yes! There is a lot of incorrect information regarding MRI safety available on the internet. After 30 years of clinical and research imaging, no peer-reviewed study has shown any long-term negative effects associated with MRI. the FDA considers MRI to be a ‘non-significant’ risk when performed within specified parameters. Our studies meet all of these safety measures.

Is MRI like an x-ray?

No! X-rays and CT scans use ionizing radiation to create an image. MRI does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio-waves (similar to those of an FM radio) to make images of the brain.

Is MRI loud?

MRI scanners built for adults can be very loud, reaching more than 140 dB (almost as loud as a rock concert). Through the use of sound proofing and special sequence design, we have reduced this to less than 60 dB- the same as a casual conversation. To reduce noise further, we use noise-attenuating headphones specially designed for infants and toddlers. As a result, infants can sleep through the scans. You can hear what an MRI sounds like here.

What happens during the MRI scan?

The first hour of the appointment will be used to make your child as comfortable as possible so that they are able to fall asleep. Once asleep, your child will be transferred from the patient preparation room into the MRI scanner room. They will be placed onto the MRI bed on their back, proper hearing protection will be put in place, along with the head coil. Metal-free blankets and cushions will be used to ensure your child is comfortable and safe. A research assistant will be present at all times during the scan to ensure your child’s safety. Our research scans may last anywhere from 25-60 minutes depending on the specific project. If your child wakes up or becomes uncomfortable at any point during the scan, they will be removed immediately from the scanner. If he/she is able to go back to sleep, we will resume the scan with your permission.

Do you use sedation to put my child to sleep?

No! We schedule scans during normal nap or sleep time. We have private rooms where you and your child can relax and fall asleep. Once asleep, we will move your child into the scanner.

Why do you image my child when they are asleep?

Just as taking pictures of a moving object causes blurry photos, moving during an MRI scan also causes blurry images. By imaging children (under 4 years of age) while they sleep, we can be sure they will stay still for the whole scan.

What should I expect when I bring my child in for the MRI?

For our research scans, your child will not be exposed to any form of contrast or sedation. This means that we do not inject anything into him/her and we will not be forcing him/her to fall asleep. Your child will be naturally asleep during the MRI scan. They will wear medical grade ear protection in order to protect their hearing and to keep them from waking up during the scan. Due to the strong magnetic field present inside the MRI, your child will need to be metal-free and change into hospital scrubs. If you decide to enter the scanner room with your child, you will also need to remove all metal objects and change into hospital scrubs. Only one parent is permitted to enter the MRI room with the child, per hospital regulation.

Can I be in the room with my child during the scan?

As long as you have no metal implants, pacemaker, etc., we encourage you to be in the scanner room along with your child. A research assistant will also be in the room the entire length of the scan.

How should I prepare my child for the MRI scan?

Preparation for the MRI scan will depend on the age of your child. However, the following are some general guidelines that our lab has found to increase the success rate for MRI scans in infants and toddlers:


  • Try to ensure your child is asleep on his/her back during the nights leading up to the scan.

  • Bathe your child immediately prior to the appointment if that is routine.   

  • Bring a peaceful props, such as a favorite book, toy, blanket, bottle, pacifier, or stuffed animal to the appointment in order to create a more familiar environment.        

  • Bring a bedtime snack if this is part of your child’s normal routine.

  • Do not let your child nap in the car on the way to the appointment.        

  • Try to not let your child nap during the 5 hours prior to your appointment at the hospital. Anything you can do to tire your child out during the day would be helpful!

  • Practice by placing ear buds in your child's ears when falling asleep during nights leading up to the scan (if they are provided).

  • Listen to MRI sounds to familiarize your child with them.

  • Watch the child-friendly cartoon depiction of the MRI scan.

What if I want to stop the scan?

Participating in our research is 100% voluntary, so you may stop at any time. If you are uncomfortable before or during the scan, we can stop the study visit or MRI scan.   

What if I have more questions?

Feel free to contact the Research Assistants in our lab with any questions or concerns!




Phone Number: 857-218-5141

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MEG Studies

Who is Eligible?


Please review our research page to check for current studies.

Questions About MEG Studies


Why is MEG necessary?

MEG helps us to learn more about brain functions during early infancy in healthy children. Information gained from MEG recordings can allow us to help patients with neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, and Down syndrome.

Does MEG have any risks?

  • There are no reports of injuries or harm to patients who have had MEG. MEG is silent and non-invasive. It does not produce any magnetic fields and does not involve any ionizing radiations.

  • The magnetic signals made by brain activity are very small compared to those from the earth and electrical machines. The MEG scanner is placed in a room that protects from environmental noise called a magnetically shielded room (MSR).

  • MEG is very sensitive to metal. Metal inside the MSR can change the results. Your child may not be able to have a scan if he/she is wearing dental braces that cannot be removed, has metal implants, a pacemaker, a stent, a shunt, and/or aneurysm clips.

  • Your child will be asked to remove, if possible, any metal objects that he/she has: glasses, jewelry, hair pins, removable dental braces, hearing aid.

How long is the visit?

The entire set-up and test will take approximately 3 hours.

How do I get my child ready?

  • Wash your child’s hair the night before the test. Do not use any oil, gel, or hairspray as that can change test results.

  • Your child should take all normal medicines before the test.

  • On the day of the MEG recording, your child can eat meals but should not have any drinks or food that contain caffeine, such as soda, or chocolate.

  • Before starting the MEG recording, we can provide a change of clothes (hospital gowns) for your child if he/she is wearing metallic clothing.

  • Depending on the type of research study, we may schedule a scan during your child’s natural nap time or even request to skip a nap for sleep recordings. In this case, please do not allow your child to fall asleep while commuting to the hospital.

  • If your child cannot sleep during the MEG, we will not be able to do a sleep study. In this case, we may need to schedule for another visit, if desired.

What should I bring to the MEG appointment?

It is helpful to bring something to comfort your child, such as blankets, bottles, favorite stuffed animals, or pacifiers. Please make sure there is no metal in those items, as they cannot go into the magnetically shielded room.

What should I do when I arrive at the hospital lobby?

Inside the lobby of the main building, you will see a large video screen. A member of our team will meet you there, by this screen, because the lab can be hard to find! Once you arrive, please give us a call at 617-355-8941 and someone will come meet you.

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Here's what a typical visit looks like. Click each photo to read more!

Step 1
Trained MEG technicians will perform the MEG recording and explain each step to you and your child.
Step 2
Sensors will be placed on the head to measure head movements.
Step 3
Using a digital scanner, technicians will scan your child's head to create a 3D image of the head's shape.
Step 4
Electrodes with skin friendly tape will be placed around the eyes to measure eye movements and on the stomach to measure heart beats.
Step 5
In some studies, an electroencephalography (EEG) cap with washable gel will be placed on your child’s head.
Step 6
The technician will position your child on the bed of the BabyMEG scanner and stay with him/her in the room. You may also remain with your child in the magnetically shielded room. Alternatively, you may observe the recording via a TV system.
Step 7
Another technician will perform the recording from outside of the MSR where he/she can see and talk, via intercom system, with the people inside of the MSR during the scan.
Step 8
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Richard Tammaro, Program Coordinator II

Tel: 857-218-5111


Fax: 617-730-4671


BCH Neonatal Imaging

BCH 3181

300 Longwood Avenue

Boston, MA 02115