Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful tool for studying the brain, and for diagnosing disease. However, it requires individuals to stay still for a period of time, something that can be difficult for young children. Sometimes, research centres or hospitals will train children ahead of time on a mock MRI scanner to help improve the likelihood of success.
In this study, we compared scan success (whether a child provided images) and quality (how good the images were) in children aged 2-5 years, based on whether they had mock MRI training prior to scanning. We also examined whether age, sex, and cognitive and behavioural scores predicted success or scan quality. We found no differences in scan success between participants who received mock MRI training and those who didn’t, but some MRI images of participants who underwent training were better in quality. Children with successful scans had better language and cognitive scores than the unsuccessful group. Age, sex, and behavioural scores were not associated with scan success.
Our study suggests that cognitive scores predict MRI success for young children, and that mock MRI training may improve scan quality. More research is needed to determine the extent to which mock scanner training helps, and which children would benefit the most from it.