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Having an MRI scan

Experience what it's like to have an MRI scan at CUBRIC.

Find out what it’s like to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan at the Centre.


When you arrive at the Centre, please report to the reception desk. After signing in, you will be asked to have a seat in the reception area where a researcher will come to collect you. When arriving at the participant consultation area, you will be asked to complete a screening form.

Address and directions to CUBRIC.

Completing the screening form

Since the MRI scanner uses a strong magnet and radio waves, the researcher will need to ensure that it is safe for you to have a scan. Upon arrival at the participant consultation area, the researcher will ask you to complete a screening form, which will be checked carefully before you enter the scanner room.

You will be asked to remove all metal objects such as jewellery, piercings, watches, keys, mobile phones, coins, hairgrips, etc. You will also be asked to change into scrubs to ensure that there is no hidden metal in your clothing. You will be provided with a locker for your belongings.

Personnel performing the scan

One of our MRI operators will perform the scan. The MRI operators are highly-skilled professionals with expertise in operating scanners and are part of a team of professionals who will be looking after you during your visit to CUBRIC.

During the scan

After being screened and changing into scrubs, you will be taken into the scanner room and made comfortable on the scanner bed (with the option to use pillows and blankets if desired).

To allow for high quality images to be obtained, a specially shaped piece of equipment may be placed around the part of the body being scanned (most likely to be the head). Due to the unique way an MRI scanner works, loud intermittent noises will be heard while the scanning is taking place. To reduce the noise, you will be given earplugs to wear for the duration of the scan.

MR images are very sensitive to movement. Therefore, to ensure optimum image quality, you will be asked to keep very still during the scan. The MRI operator will help to make sure you are comfortable in the scanner, so you feel secure and relaxed.

MRI has been used routinely since the 1980s and there are no known side-effects. Since the scan should not affect you physically in any way, you can go about your normal daily tasks after leaving the Centre.

Further information on our MR scanners.

Scanning time

Typically, an MRI scan at CUBRIC lasts between 30-90 minutes, depending on what is being studied. You will be given this information prior to your arrival.

Completing a screening form and changing into scrubs takes around 20 minutes. Please account for extra time in case the scan lasts longer than expected, as well as for changing out of scrubs after scanning.

Types of brain images

The types of images we capture will depend on the study you are participating in and will be explained to you by the MRI operators before you enter the scanner. Many scans simply require the participant to lie still in the scanner while the images are being taken.

All participants will have standard images of the brain’s anatomy and structure obtained. Some participants will have a functional MRI (fMRI) scan, where an activity is performed in the scanner (e.g. looking at pictures or tapping a button), which allows us to obtain information about the brain at work. If this is applicable, it will have been explained to you when you were asked to participate in the study.

Further information on functional MRI scans.

Accessing my images

As the Centre is a research-only facility, you will not be provided with any medical advice or diagnosis following participation in a research study, nor will you be provided with a copy of the images we obtain. The majority of our researchers are not medically trained and, as such, cannot offer any medical opinion or treatment following scanning.

All images are anonymised and held on our secure database. The images are accessible by our researchers for scientific research purposes only.

Accessibility for disabled volunteers

All our facilities have full disabled access and toilet facilities. Due to the strong magnetic field of the MRI scanner, you will not be able to take your own wheelchair into the actual scanning room, but you will be able to use one of our non-magnetic wheelchairs.

If you require assistive equipment for transfer between the chair and the scanner bed, please contact us before your appointment so that we can make the necessary arrangements for your visit.


If you have any questions about having an MRI scan at the Centre, please feel free to contact us:

Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre