NordicNeuroLab MR Simulator

The MRI simulator or “mock scanner” suite is available to investigators to acclimate research subjects, prepare experimental paradigms, and train research staff for actual MRI studies. The mock magnet simulates the real MRI scanner and introduces research subjects, including normal and clinical populations, children and adults, to the scanning environment. This permits subjects to gradually become accustomed to the scanning procedure and trained to minimize movement.  Allowing subjects to acclimate to the scanner before the actual imaging session helps to prepare them, and encourages calmer and more focused performance, which ultimately results in more productive and cost effective scanning sessions.  The simulator can also be used to develop and test experimental paradigms, and to quickly train new researchers to run the experimental session in a safe and controlled environment, minimizing the use of costly scanner time for set-up and training.

Our mock magnet (NordicNeuroLab) has a bore diameter of 22” (56cm) (the height from the table to the top of bore is 16.5” (42 cm)), and utilizes a simulated head coil assembly with mounted mirror system.  The simulator is equipped with a sliding patient table, realistic in-bore fans and lighting, and a sound system that mimics the vibrations and pulse sequence noises of an MR imager.

The experimental setup includes, headphones and rear-mounted monitor for auditory and visual stimulus presentation. Experimental stimuli are presented via laptop computer supplied by the research team. Computer generated stimuli are simultaneously presented to the subject and to an additional monitor and headphone set for the experimenter.  Two five-key button box response units, identical to those in the MRI scanner, enables researchers to better develop and test experimental paradigms in the mock scanner. Child-friendly scanner decorations, and a head-set that detects movement and shuts off the video presentation are available for training young children. A comfortable observation area allows family members or caregivers to view the procedure from inside the mock scanner room.

A second MRI simulator is located in the Psychology Department in William James Hall. The MRI simulator is available at no cost to all Harvard investigators doing or preparing to do MRI research.


  • Realistic fans and lighting
  • Magnet sound simulation (SimEffects)
  • Rear mounted monitor for visual stimulus presentation
  • Headphones for audio presentation
  • Headphones and monitor that mirror stimuli being presented to subject
  • Hookup for experimenter laptop for stimulus presentation
  • DVD for stimulus presentation
  • Two five-key button box response devices
  • Comfortable in-room observation area for subject’s family members or caregivers
  • Optional child-friendly decorations