MRI Information


What is MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  The tube that you go inside is actually a powerful magnet.  This is why you cannot have any metal inside or on your body. Fillings and some dental work are ok because they are special metals, but you should always double check with our staff. 

An MRI differs from a CAT scan or X-Ray because it does NOT use radiation. MRI utilizes the fact that most of our brain (and body) is made up of water. During the MRI, the magnet uses what is called a coil, similar to a lens on a camera, to capture the state of water molecules from different tissues in the brain. Water in different tissues has different states. This information is then reconfigured into a 3-D picture of the brain (just like your camera reconfigures light information into a digital picture). Different types of MRI images correspond to the different types of states being examined with regard to the water molecules.

Looking for more information? Read more about the MRI process and safety at:

OHSU's Advanced Imaging Research Center

Kids Health: Brain MRI



Have a look at what it's like to have an MRI scan at the Fair Neuroimaging Lab in this short video:

We also do a pretend MRI (or "mock") scan to familiarize children with the experience of getting an MRI. This helps children feel more comfortable when they are doing the real MRI scan. Please watch the video below to learn more about the mock MRI.

 Please watch the video below to learn more about what it's like to participate in one of our studies