User Information - Access, Administration, and Training

Starting Place for New or Perspective Researchers

This page contains vital information on becoming a scanner operator, gaining access to BIC, scanner reservation policies and other administrative matters. It is recommended that existing users direct any and all new lab mates to this page before contacting BIC staff with your questions regarding access, training and administrative policies. At the bottom of this page you will find links to all BIC administrative forms and training documents.

Getting Information

The primary vehicles for communication between BIC staff and scanner users are the various scanner mailing lists. All important announcements regarding the facility, including training courses and equipment updates, are done here. If you have a email address you may sign yourself up by clicking here and then hitting the "bConnect Lists" button. We use these four main lists for BIC activities:

  • scanner3t
  • fmri
  • tms_fmri
  • mockscanner
  • The scanner 3T list is for scanner-specific practical and administrative issues such as posting slot cancellations, announcement of training courses, etc. The fMRI list is reserved for non-scanner-specific discussions, such as general acquisition questions, discussion of MRI data processing issues, etc. The TMS list is for both online and offline TMS related issues. Finally the mock scanner list is for, well, I'm sure you can figure that out!

    If you aren't a Berkeley student or employee and therefore don't have a email account, contact Ben to get added to the mailing list(s) of your choice. Note also that you can use any email address to register for the lists - you don't have to register using your Berkeley address once you're logged in - but you must post to the lists using the registered account. So, if you are in the habit of using gmail, say, instead of your Berkeley address when you read/send mail, you should register the gmail account for the list.

    User Training Requirements

    To attend ANY formal scanner training classes you must first have passed the 3T safety quiz (see below), and have a current CPHS approval to scan. You should also have sufficient funding to cover the scanning you intend to do. For most people, your principal investigator (PI) will be responsible for getting CPHS approval and funding for scans. Please discuss with your PI before you try to initiate scanner training. If you (or your PI) don't have a current CPHS approval and/or funding, contact Ben Inglis and we will try to figure out what you can do. Once you have the CPHS, funding and safety quiz requirements satisfied, please complete the Request for Scanner Training form and submit it to Miguel Perez. There is no charge for training classes.

    Safety Training

    Those who plan to spend any significant time around the scanner (i.e. other than to be a subject or an occasional, accompanied visitor) must pass a safety quiz after attending a safety training course. Classes are announced on the 3 T list and occur approximately monthly, depending on demand and staff schedules. The current safety syllabus is downloadable here.

    Next Safety Training Session:

    11 am - 1 pm, Tuesday 20th February, 2018.

    Training groups meet at the BIC elevator entrance . Please read the safety syllabus/SOP document before attending. Instructions on how to find the BIC elevator are located on the Contact page.

    It is important to note that there are dual objectives for the safety training: your safety and the safety of your subjects. The latter objective requires that you not only understand the safety information you are taught, but can impart that same information to your subjects, most of whom will probably never have been around an MRI before. You may also be interested to read a report on MRI Research Safety and Ethics produced by the NIMH Council Workshop on MRI Research Practices. If you intend to set up and run your own experiment you will be discussing subject safety extensively with the Berkeley Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS), which is the Institutional Review Board by another name. So, reading this document should provide useful suggestions when you are developing your CPHS protocol, and the information contained therein will help you make decisions when screening subjects and working in the MRI suite. Note that these documents are not required to pass the safety quiz, however.

    3T Scanner Training

    Introductory and Intermediate level user training classes happen every 3-6 months or so, depending on demand.

    Next Introductory Training Sesssions:

    Next Intermediate Training Sessions:

    The Introductory level class consists of an hour long demonstration followed by an optional (but strongly advised) hands-on tutorial a few days later, and covers basic scanner operation only. Intermediate level classes are an interactive 2-3 hour session dealing with general fMRI acquisition topics; attendees are expected to know scanner operation basics already. There is usually one demo class and one interactive/tutorial class a few days later. Advanced classes for users with intermediate-level fMRI experience will be customized to specific topics based on interest. Advanced classes also form the basis of annual user re-certification. All class dates and times will be announced to the scanner3t mailing list.

    Please note that you may also learn to scan by apprenticing under an experienced operator in your group, or you may already have experience from a prior lab. It is not required that you attend these classes in order to become a certified user, only passing the user quiz is required. Use whichever training method suits you, but see the description of the user quiz below to determine whether you might require the formal training or not. A user training guide/FAQ is available to assist you. Note that this guide is mandatory reading for the user quiz anyway.

    Please submit a Request for Scanner Training Form to Miguel Perez to register for training.

    Peripheral Equipment Training

    Peripherals training is treated separate from scanner training. Please contact Miguel to set up a time to learn about using the peripheral equipment. Training may be tailored to the equipment that you require or kept general, depending on several factors. Please refer to the Peripheral Equipment section of the website for more details.

    The User Quiz - The Final Step to Becoming a Qualified Scanner Operator

    Prior to taking the user quiz it is expected that you have attended the Introductory and Intermediate level scanner training sessions, or have received equivalent education by apprenticing under an experienced operator in your group, or have suitable experience from another facility. (Note: Advanced training is beyond the level of the user quiz.) The litmus test for knowing when you are ready to become a qualified operator is straightforward: you should be able to run an entire scan session, from subject screening through image acquisition to data transfer, without needing significant assistance from anyone.

    The user quiz covers the following broad areas: scanner operation, peripherals equipment operation, subject screening and safety, and some background physics of fMRI. To pass the user quiz you should have a good idea of why you do what you do, not just be able to make pretty pictures in rote fashion!

    You must read/review the following documents before taking the user quiz:

    1. The specific CPHS protocol and screening form you'll use for your subjects. (Contact your PI for these.)

    2. The CPHS Policies governing MRI examinations at Berkeley.

    3. An explanation of how to screen subjects for 3 T MRI.

    4. Re-read the 3 T safety syllabus you read for the safety quiz. (Contact Ben Inglis if you need a new copy.)

    5. Chapters 4,5,6,7 and 8 from the book by Huettel, Song & Mccarthy, "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging." If you have already taken PSY214, Mark D'Esposito's Intro to fMRI Methods class, then a lot of this material should be review. If not, you should read through these chapters carefully. It is important to have a solid understanding of the basic physics and physiology underlying fMRI. Otherwise you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to know how best to set up an experiment, how to recognize and avoid/reduce common artifacts, etc.

    6. The user training guide/FAQ.

    7. Review the basic use of peripheral equipment for displaying stimuli in the scanner.

    Scanner Access Policies and Funding

    Once you have passed the user quiz you'll be placed in a regular booking group on the scanner scheduler and will be allowed card key access to Zones III and IV. Your scanner access privileges will remain current provided you maintain a current CPHS approval and provided you have funding to scan. Anyone who is found to be scanning under an expired CPHS protocol will be barred from the scanner and will be reported to the CPHS.

    Billing is done based on the reservation schedule. Our goal is to maximize the amount of science that can be done, not maximize revenue. Thus, if you delete a reservation for any reason, even at short notice, you won't be charged provided you email the 3 T list announcing the cancellation so that someone else might use the time.

    Charges will not apply if you cannot scan because of a legitimate scanner or peripherals issue. Note, however, that lack of experience or training does not constitute a legitimate problem! It is rare that a real scanner issue arises. More often a user creates a problem for himself by rushing, or by trying to scan solo without sufficient practical experience.

    As a general rule, only funded studies may be conducted on the scanner. However, there are a few occasions when scan slots can be reserved without charge. If you are about to start a new experiment and need to set up a protocol with the assistance of BIC staff, or you are installing a new piece of equipment with the assistance of BIC staff, scan slots should be reserved with the appropriate BIC staff person such that your group won't get the bill. Note also that these "free" slots can happen only if they are the segue to a funded experiment. Anybody needing scanner time for an unfunded, pilot project should contact Mark D'Esposito.

    Card Key Access Policies

    Access to the BIC in Li Ka Shing Center is restricted to those who have passed the safety quiz. Access to the 3 T scanner (Zones III and IV) is further restricted to those people who have passed the user quiz. Having passed one or both quizzes, download and complete the BIC Card Key Access Request Form to request activation of your UC Berkeley card key. Note that passing the safety quiz alone grants Zone II access privileges while passing both the safety and user quizzes grants Zones II-IV access privileges. Please mark the appropriate zone request on the form.

    You may submit the form electronically to Rick Redfern or drop off as a printed copy at the BIC offices. Check to see if your card key has been activated 2-3 working days after receiving notification that your card key request form has been received and processed. Once it is active, come to the BIC offices to receive an LKS sticker to go on your card. This sticker is required for after hours access. The LKS security guards (and UCPD) are authorized to eject anyone from the building whose card key doesn't have the sticker.

    3 T Scheduler

    The 3 T scheduler is accessible via the Scheduler tab at the top of the page. Contact Miguel to get an account on the scheduler (called Calpendo) after you have passed the safety quiz and submitted a Request for Scanner Training form, or have already passed the user quiz. You will be assigned Trainee status, allowing you to view the schedule but not make reservations. Your status will be changed to a regular user, allowing you to make reservations, once you pass the user quiz (assuming you have a current CPHS and your PI wants to pay for your scans!).

    Bookings may be made up to two calendar months ahead of the current date without prior approval. If you need to make a reservation that is more than two calendar months away, please submit a Request for Scanner Reservation form to Ben or Mark D'Esposito. The instructions are on the form.

    Mock Scanner Access

    Anyone with a Cal ID can get access to the mock scanner housed in the old 4 T building. You do not need to have passed the 3 T safety or user quiz. Please complete the Mock Scanner Access form and submit it to Rick.

    User QA Procedures

    Users are requested to run a simple check of the scanner's operational status after startup and prior to shutdown, and may be requested to perform the check if certain problems are encountered. A full list of the situations necessitating the "User QA" procedure is included in this document, along with a complete description of the procedure itself.


    Forms and Training Documents


    Mock Scanner Access Request Form
    BIC Card Key Access Request Form
    Request for Scanner Reservation Form (for reservations > 2 months away)
    Request for Scanner Training Form
    BIC Staff Assistance Request Form
    BIC Equipment Purchase Request Form

    Scanner Training:

    3 T Safety Training Syllabus (Last updated: 21Nov2017)
    User Training Guide & FAQ (Last updated: 08 March 2012)
    CPHS Policy for MRI Research at Berkeley
    How to Screen Subjects for MRI
    User QA Protocol

    Supporting Human Subjects Documents:

    NIMH Report on MRI Research Safety and Ethics
    Full UC Berkeley CPHS Policies and Procedures