When preparing a new experiment, it is often necessary to do some basic pilot work to set up scanner pulse sequences or new stimulus/response equipment and programs. We break down pilot testing into informal equipment/stimulus/sequence set-up and pilot scans where human data is acquired.

Equipment/stimulus/sequence test (no MRI acquisition or phantom-only)

Once your project has been presented and approved, it is a good idea to test equipment and/or stimulation programs to ensure they are working correctly and to get scanning protocols in place.

We encourage people to do this when the scanner is free on a first-come, first-served basis. Consult the online booking schedule or ask scanner center staff if the scanner is free (during normal operating hours, 10AM to 6PM).

You don't have to book this time and you won't be charged. Be aware, however, that if the scanner gets booked, even at short notice while your testing is going on, you will have to leave immediately.

Acquiring human pilot data

After equipment, stimuli, and sequences are in place, it is a good idea to test your experiment with a knowledgeable participant or two from your lab and to make sure your data and design are working as you think they are (this mainly applies to functional MRI studies).

Scanner hours for this kind of pilot testing should be factored into the number of hours requested on the project proposal form, and booked as a regular scan.

Lab members are ideal subjects so that you can obtain informed feedback on paradigm presentation, performance, and pacing. Note that they must be screened as regular participants.