Frequently Asked Questions

What is a behavioral study?
A behavioral study looks at how you respond to different experimental stimuli. This may involve making responses to stimuli on a computer screen or completing questionnaires and surveys. Behavioral studies are designed to observe and examine a variety of cognitive processes, such as decision-making, emotional control, and attention. During a behavioral session, we may ask you to perform a number of different tasks to best test our hypothesis.

What is an fMRI?
fMRI stands for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or functional MRI. Functional MRI is a procedure that measures changes in brain activity based on blood oxygenation levels in the brain (the Blood Oxygen Level Dependent, or BOLD, signal). Researchers can use this to help identify regions of the brain that are associated with different tasks or psychiatric conditions.

What are the risks to fMRI?
The risks associated to fMRI are minimal as this technology is non-invasive. However, there are certain precautions that need to be taken. It can be dangerous to have metal in the MRI machine, as certain metals can heat up or become displaced due to the magnetic field. If you usually wear glasses, we will ask you to wear contacts to your appointment. Although many metals are safe in the fMRI machine, ferromagnetic metals (metals with iron) are not allowed. If you believe you have any type of metal in your body you should discuss this with the experimenter and your physician to determine if it is safe for you to participate. If you are unsure about metal in your body, consult your physician or contact us with specific questions.

You should not participate in an MRI study if you are claustrophic, as the scanner is a small, tube-like machine. During the session, you will lie down with your head and upper body enclosed and you will be asked to remain as still as possible.

*As a safety precaution, we do not allow pregnant women in the scanner.

I have metal in my body. Can I still participate?
Depending on the type of metal you have in your body, you may still be able to enter the scanner. Contact us with specific questions regarding the type of metal you have. If the metal in your body is not MRI safe, you will not be able to participate in our fMRI studies. However, you may still be able to participate in our behavioral studies.

Will I be comfortable in the MRI scanner?
We do our best to make subjects as comfortable as possible in the scanner. Both a study researcher and an MRI technician will be present throughout the scan. You will be given an emergency button that you can press if you wish to stop the scan at any time. You will also be provided with noise-cancelling headphones to help reduce the sounds.

While many individuals are able to enter the scanner without any trouble, the scanner environment is not for recommended for everyone.

If you are unsure how you would handle being inside the scanner, we do offer participants the opportunity to simulate the experience in a “mock scanner” environment.

Can I get the results of my fMRI?
We can provide you with an anatomical picture of your brain! The scans we perform do not provide any diagnostic information regarding severity of psychological disorders.

The study I’m interested in says it requires a psychiatric evaluation. What does that involve?
Some of our studies require a psychiatric evaluation, which we use to confirm eligibility for participation. During the evaluation, we may ask you a series of personal questions regarding psychiatric and medical history. For healthy individuals, this may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. For patients, the evaluation can take longer, from around one to three hours.

Please note: All your responses are kept confidential, are linked to a unique identifying code, and are only available to personnel on the study. Even if you are not considered “eligible” following the evaluation, you will still be compensated for the time you spent in the study.

Will I be compensated for my time?
All individuals will be compensated for their time spent participating in our studies. Compensation varies depending on the study. Please contact a researcher for further information.

Will you keep my information private?
Participant information is kept completely confidential, and is only available to study personnel. Any and all of your identifying information (name, address, etc.) will be removed from all of your responses and test results.

Contact Us

Rebbia Shahab
Tel: 212-824-8995
Fax: 646-537-9584
Send e-mail

Carina Brown
Tel: 212-824-8994
Fax: 646-537-9584
Send e-mail

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy
Box 1230
New York, NY 10029