Frequently asked questions



Who can take part?

We are recruiting males and females aged 25 to 75. 

We cannot recruit people who :

•are afraid of tight spaces (i.e. claustrophobic)

•have any metal in their body (such as a pacemaker, staples from surgery, shrapnel)

•have ever had a seizure or neurological problem (such as Parkinson’s Disease, MS) 

  1. are pregnant.

Where does scanning take place?

In our new Centre for Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN), based in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Science

When is the study running?

The study will take place from July to September, depending on how many people we recruit.  We usually run sessions during the week (i.e. Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm); however if you would like to participate but can only attend on a weekend, we can make appropriate arrangements.

Is there any payment?

We will pay you £25 for participation in the two sessions. 

Can I get the picture of my brain?

Yes, we will e-mail you a pdf-file with a picture of your brain within a week of you participating in the study: just let us know where you would like it to be sent and we’ll do the rest!

Click here to get back to the general study information

functional MRI - what and how

What is MRI?

MRI is a method for producing images of the brain. It involves placing the participant inside a large, powerful magnet, which forms part of the brain scanner. We use MRI to image the composition of different parts of your brain. We can also image which parts of your brain are more or less active. When particular regions of the brain are active, they require more oxygen, which comes from red corpuscles in the blood. As a result, the flow of blood increases. This can be detected as changes in the echoes from brief pulses of radio waves. These changes can then be converted by a computer into 3D images. This enables us to determine which parts of the brain are active during different tasks.

Are there any health risks?

As far as we know, this procedure poses no direct health risks. However, the Department of Health advises that certain people should NOT be scanned. Because the scanner magnet is very powerful, it can interfere with heart pacemakers and clips or other metal items which have been implanted into the body by a surgeon, or with body-piercing items. If you have had surgery which may have involved the use of metal items you should NOT take part. Note that only ferro-magnetic materials (e.g. steel) are likely to cause significant problems. Thus normal dental amalgam fillings do not prohibit you from being scanned, though a dental plate which contained metal would do so, and you would be asked to remove it. You will be asked to remove metal from your pockets (coins, keys), remove articles of clothing which have metal fasteners (belts etc), as well as most jewellery. Alternative clothing will be provided as necessary. Watches and credit cards should not be taken into the scanner since it can interfere with their operation.

Before we will sign you up for the study, we will administer a questionnaire (the Initial Screening Form), which asks about these and other matters to determine whether it is safe for you to be scanned. We will show you this form again upon your arrival in the MRI suite to ensure that there have been no change in your circumstances and you will also be asked to complete a second, shorter, screening form.

What’s it like to be scanned?

To be scanned, you will lie on your back on a narrow bed on runners, on which you will be moved until moved into the scanner. This is rather like having your head put inside the drum of a very large front-loading washing machine. As the scanning process itself creates intermittent loud noises  we will provide you with ear-plugs and sound-attenuating headphones. We are able to talk to you while you are in the scanner through an intercom.

If you are likely to become very uneasy in this relatively confined space (suffer from claustrophobia), you should NOT take part in the study. However, if you do take part and this happens, you will be able to alert the experimenters by activating an alarm and will then be removed from the scanner quickly.

It is important that you keep your head as still as possible during the scan, and to help you with this, your head will be partially restrained with padded headrests.  Although you will not be continuously scanned for the entire period you are in the scanner we will ask you to relax your head and keep it still for approximately 45-60 minutes.  If this becomes unacceptably difficult or uncomfortable, you may ask to be removed from the scanner.

How long will I be in the scanner?

You will be in the scanner for approx an hour, which includes the time taken to make sure you are comfortable and can see the pictures, as well as the actual experiment.

What if I want to come out of the scanner?

You are given an alarm to hold when in the scanner: if at any time you feel uncomfortable, you just press the alarm and the scan will be stopped.

What happens if you find an abnormality?

The researchers involved do not have expertise in MRI diagnosis, as they are psychologists or allied scientists and are not medical doctors. We ask you to give the name and address of your GP before the study starts. This is because occasionally, when we image healthy participants, the researchers may be concerned that a potential abnormality may exist on the scan. In such cases, we will send a copy of the image to your GP, so that they can decide what course of action is best. By signing the consent form, you authorise us to do this. If you are not willing to authorise this, please do not volunteer for the study.

Can the scan be used for clinical purposes?

There is no intended clinical benefit to you from taking part in this study. The scans are not intended to provide a medical diagnosis or a ‘clean bill of health’ – and the person conducting your scans will not be able to comment on the results of your scans.  It is important that you appreciate that these research scans are NOT a medical screening procedure, and will not provide any information that may help in the diagnosis of any medical condition. If you do have any health concerns, you should contact a qualified medical practitioner in the normal way.

Will you inform me of your results?

You may find it interesting and informative to participate in research that may contribute to scientific knowledge about the brain, health, and well-being. If you so desire, we would be happy to send you a report on the results of the research. In that case, please leave us your contact details (postal address and/or email). Please note that the data collection and data analysis often takes at least 1 year so we may not be able to inform you about the study results any earlier than that.

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What happens if I want to withdraw from the study?

You can withdraw your participation from the study at any time, without any need for explanation.  This is your right as a participant, and will not affect your relationship with the experimenters.

I’m still not sure about participating.

We encourage you to talk to family members and friends before signing up to participate in this study.  Please feel free to contact any of the investigators (details below) with any specific questions.  However, if you are unsure about participating it is probably best not to sign-up at this time.


Email us at,  and one of our researchers will then contact you within a few days.  Or call 0118 378 5557 to speak to a researcher directly (part-time only so better to email).

We will answer any questions you may have, and go through the initial screening form, either over the phone or in person, to check your eligibility. 

If both parties are happy to proceed, we will book your sessions for mutually convenient times.

I’ve signed-up but have changed my mind.

That’s fine: please contact one of the researchers as soon as possible to cancel your session via email:

I’ve signed-up; do I need to do anything before the sessions?

You don’t need to do anything special before the first testing session.  Before the scanning session however, we ask you to wear clothing that does not contain metal (e.g. metal zips and buttons), and to refrain from drinking excessive amounts of liquid in the hour or two preceding your scan.  You will be given more information on the scanning session when you attend the initial session.