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All public activities, appointments and MRI scans have been suspended at this time.
For additional information, please see the official COVID-19 information webpage of The University of Texas at Dallas.

University of Texas at Dallas BrainHealth Imaging Center

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University of Texas at Dallas BrainHealth Imaging Center

About
FAQs
Policies & Forms

Located at Center for BrainHealth, The University of Texas at Dallas BrainHealth Imaging Center is a one-of-a-kind facility completely focused on human brain imaging to measure changes in brain health and function. This is the first set of scanners for the university and among the few MRI machines in North Texas used exclusively for human brain research.

It features two 3 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, state-of-the-art equipment specifically optimized for the acquisition and interpretation of rich research data about the brain’s structure and function.

The work at the center will serve as a hub for research scientists, partners—and even the medical community—to collaborate in the advancement of brain health. It will also serve to train the next generation of scientists who will develop new analytics, new technology, and new approaches to create completely new visualization capabilities in the future.

As a resource for the research and scientific community, the UT Dallas BrainHealth Imaging Center is now accepting scheduling requests, please visit the policies & forms tab on this page for information.

To receive notifications and updates via email, please subscribe to the "UTD_Imaging” listserv

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?
MRI is a form of imaging that provides a non-invasive method of looking at structures inside the body. MRI uses a very strong constant magnetic field, weaker variable-strength magnetic fields, and radio frequency (RF) pulses. The RF pulses are similar to those transmitted by radio stations.

How does an MRI work?
MRI scanners interact with atoms in the body. Hydrogen atoms are most commonly used since our bodies contain a large amount of water and, therefore, hydrogen. The hydrogen atoms in your body normally spin in random directions, but most of them align and spin in the same direction when they are in the strong magnetic field inside the scanner. A computer manipulates the magnetic field and sends radio waves of certain frequencies at precise moments to cause the hydrogen atoms to produce an echo. Bone, blood, muscle, fat, fluid, etc. each emit unique signals which are read and processed by a computer to produce very accurate images of the body part being scanned. The MRI scanners at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center are specially calibrated for human brain research.

What is fMRI and how is it different from MRI?
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a method of imaging that evaluates the brain’s activation response to types of physical sensation (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell) or cognitive activity such as problem solving. The areas of the brain that are responsible for processing the incoming information recruit more oxygen-rich blood. An fMRI captures an image of the brain at a specific time that the sensation or activity is presented, revealing if there is more oxygenated blood in one part of the brain compared to others. This image is usually referred to as Blood-Oxygenation Level Dependent response (BOLD).

Are MRI scans safe?
Yes, MRI is considered a safe form of imaging because it is non-invasive, and there are no known lasting biological effects from the magnetic fields or RF energy used. Some temporary discomfort may be experienced such as dizziness, a metallic taste in the mouth or warmth during the scanning process.

MRI does not use ionizing radiation, so it does not share the biological risks of x-ray radiation used for x-ray films or Computed Tomography (CT/CAT) scans.

The chief safety concern with MRI involves most ferromagnetic (containing iron) items and electronic devices entering the strong magnetic field. People entering an MRI room should not wear or have on them anything electronic or containing iron. Certain items may be acceptable, but we must know what they are to determine their safety status.

When you arrive for your MRI scan, we perform a comprehensive safety screening. This includes completing a questionnaire where you list any implanted items, devices or foreign bodies that you may have. A trained MRI professional will review this information with you. Please bring any implant identification cards with you and note that certain items considered safe in some MRI scanners may not be safe in others.

How strong are the MRI magnets?
The magnetic field of MRI scanners is typically expressed in units of tesla (T). The MRI scanners at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center have field strengths of 3-tesla. For reference, this is about 60,000 stronger than the earth’s natural magnetic field; 3T is also about three times stronger than the electromagnets used to lift automobiles.

The UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center features two Siemens Prisma MRI scanners. This state-of-the-art equipment is preferred by top brain scientists because it is specifically optimized for the acquisition and interpretation of rich research data about the brain’s structure and function.

What can I expect when I go for my MRI scan?
Before entering the MRI room, you will need to remove your personal belongings – including hearing aids, jewelry, cell phone, credit cards, etc. Lockers are provided for your belongings.

The process will be explained, and any questions you have will be answered. You will be provided with a call button to alert the scanner operator of any concerns that might come up during your scan, and there is an intercom to allow for communication. You will be monitored throughout your scan by the scanner operator.

Does my whole body have to go into the scanner to scan my brain?
The body part being scanned must be in the center of the scanner. When having your brain scanned, usually the upper half of your body will be inside the scanner and your legs will remain out.

How long does an MRI scan take?
Each study may have different tasks and procedures that will affect the length of time spent in the scanner, although scans generally last less than an hour. When you enroll in a study with an MRI component, the requirements will be specifically reviewed with you in detail.

Can I have an MRI if I have a pacemaker or other implant?
Many medical implants are acceptable for MRI scanning. Orthopedic hardware such as joint replacements, plates, nails and screws are typically safe.

Individuals with implanted cardiac pacemakers, ICDs (defibrillators), stimulators, pumps and other electronic devices will not be able to have MRI scans at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center, even if the device is classified as “MR-Conditional.” Restrictions still apply if a device is present but not active.

When you arrive for your MRI scan, we perform a comprehensive safety screening. This includes completing a questionnaire where you list any implanted items, devices or foreign bodies that you may have. A trained MRI professional will review this information with you. Please bring any implant identification cards with you and note that certain items considered safe in some MRI scanners may not be safe in others.

Are the MRIs at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center used for medical diagnostic purposes?
No; the unique and exclusive focus at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center is on measuring aspects of the brain that can be improved or maintained over time. Unlike the vast majority of imaging facilities in which magnetic resonance scanners are used primarily for diagnostic purposes related to injuries and disease, the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center was designed to uncover biomarkers of brain health, furthering brain health research and interventions. In fact, this is the first research-dedicated MRI system at a non-medical research university in North Texas, and one of a select few in the country. Our scanners are optimized for research data collection, which means that what is most useful from our scans is data, which we analyze to answer scientific research questions.

What cleaning procedures are used for the MRI?
We follow CDC guidelines to clean all surfaces and equipment that study participants come into contact with.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

How can I sign up to participate in a study?
Visit our Participate in a Study page to learn more.

What happens to the information from my MRI scan?
The Center for BrainHealth is a research institute and as such adheres to strict standards set by The University of Texas at Dallas Institutional Review Board (IRB). Because we are not a medical provider and do not provide a medical diagnosis or treatment, we do not create or maintain clinical medical records. All MRI data obtained from the research study is kept private, confidential and is stored in a secure manner as regulated by the IRB.

I’m participating in The BrainHealth Project™. Why do I need to get more than one scan?
Your first scan establishes a baseline for your own brain. When additional scans are conducted over time, this enables us to measure changes in the brain’s structure and function when research variables such as cognitive training are applied.

For The BrainHealth Project, who can I contact if I have an additional question not addressed here?
For additional questions related to the Project, please send an email to brainhealthproject@utdallas.edu.

What happens to the information from my MRI scan?
The Center for BrainHealth is a research institute and as such adheres to strict standards set by The University of Texas at Dallas Institutional Review Board (IRB). Because we are not a medical provider and do not provide a medical diagnosis or treatment, we do not create or maintain clinical medical records. All MRI data obtained from the research study is kept private, confidential and is stored in a secure manner as regulated by the IRB.

I’m a UTD researcher. How can I schedule scans?
Prior to scheduling scans, UTD researchers must submit an MRI Application.  The application must be approved by the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center MRI Operations, Safety & Feasibility Ad Hoc Committee and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to and in order for MRI scans to be completed.  Please contact Administrative Coordinator, Angela Plata to request an application.

I’m a researcher at another academic institution. Can I have access to the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center?
While researchers affiliated with UTD will have the first priority, the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center may be made available to other brain researchers in the community. For more information, please contact BrainHealth Imaging Center Administrative Coordinator, Angela Plata.

To receive regular notifications and updates via email, please subscribe to the "UTD_Imaging” listserv

To schedule a scan, UTD researchers must submit an MRI Application.  The application must be approved by the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center MRI Operations, Safety & Feasibility Ad Hoc Committee and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to and in order for MRI scans to be completed at the UTD BrainHealth Imaging Center.  Please contact Administrative Coordinator, Angela Plata to request an application.

Following approval, scanning time for pilot testing or participant scans can be scheduled through the BrainHealth Imaging Center shared calendar. Download instructions to open and book time (using outlook).

Schedule is available for:

  1. Two 3T Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners
  2. Brain Reset room
  3. Consent or meeting office space and conference rooms

Download billing form for cost and time tracking information

To receive regular notifications and updates via email, please subscribe to the "UTD_Imaging” listserv