Training & Safety

At the UConn Brain Imaging Research Center, safety is our top priority. To ensure the safety of all researchers and participants, BIRC adheres to a specific safety and training policy that requires all researchers intending to use BIRC resources complete basic safety training to understand the risks and protocols related to an MRI environment. The level 1 safety training module (campus or VPN required) is comprised of viewing educational videos and taking an online quiz, and takes approximately 30 minutes. Once you complete the test with a score of seven or higher please contact Elisa Medeiros to be given card access to the public area (Zone 1) at BIRC.

Access to BIRC is controlled by proximity card. You will need a Husky One Card with a 5-digit number printed on the upper right of the card back. If your card does not have such a number, contact the One Card office to get a free upgrade to a proximity card.

MRI users

Investigators and students wishing to conduct research using our Siemens Prisma 3T scanner will need to complete Advanced Safety Training at BIRC. This involves a period of approximately 90 minutes, during which you will receive hands-on orientation to the MRI suite (Zones 3 and 4). Note: you must complete Level 1 safety training and complete all required reading (provided when AST session is scheduled) prior to the session. Please contact Elisa Medeiros to schedule safety training.

EEG users

EEG training is required prior to using the EGI high density EEG systems at BIRC. In-scanner users must also complete MRI training. Training consists of an orientation session and at least three supervised practice sessions. Please complete the BIRC EEG Training Request Form. Researchers should also complete EHS Biological Safety Considerations: Human Subjects Research (HuskyCT) training. Researchers are strongly encouraged to operate the EEG system in pairs. You will receive card access to the EEG room after completing training.

TMS users

Please contact BIRC for more information. Training consists of written and applied tests and at least 5 supervised sessions of your specific protocol. TMS sessions must be conducted by at least two researchers.

MRI Participant Safety and Screening

All participants need to complete a metal screening form prior to participating in a MRI. We recommend having the form completed prior to the participant’s appointment day so any potential contraindications can be addressed. The form will be reviewed by the scanner operator at the time of the MRI. The researcher should retain the signed form, consistent with their IRB-approved data retention policy. Below is a list of common issues presented by participants:

  • Permanent retainers: Most are MRI compatible, and create only a small artifact that does not affect data collection; however, some retainers are mildly attracted to the magnet. Unfortunately there is no way to know if the retainer is attracted or not other than to have the participant come in and be tested by entering the magnet room with the technologist. Please note that some retainers that were safe during previous MRIs done on a 1.5T scanner may be attracted to a 3T scanner.
  • Braces: While braces are not a contraindication for MRI, the artifact that is created obliterates anatomy in the fMRI and diffusion sequences; therefore, consider excluding any participant that has braces.
  • Colored contact lenses: Some pigments used in colored contacts contain iron oxide and are not MRI safe. Clear contact lenses can be worn, and MRI compatible glasses can be provided.
  • Tattoos: A small percentage of tattoos can be affected during a MRI resulting in a burn. We suggest avoiding having a study done until the tattoo is fully healed (approximately six weeks).
  • Clothing: All participants are required to change into BIRC scrubs. Lockers are provided for personal belongings.

We also have information for participants that can help them prepare for a study.

EEG Safety and Screening

Participants with open head wounds must be excluded from EEG studies. Since the EGI system does not use gel, some hairstyles (bald or partially bald, very short, tightly braided, or very springy hair) will make obtaining good electrode contact with the scalp difficult or impossible. Certain hair dyes, generally reddish hues, may bleed in contact with the saline solution. You should inform the participant of this and get permission to test the dye by applying a small amount of saline solution to a patch of non-visible hair.

TMS Safety and Screening

TMS generates a strong local magnetic field. A TMS screening form must be completed and reviewed prior to every TMS session. Earplugs must be worn by participants and researchers during TMS.