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. Hyperlinks to specific documents appear at various points in the page. Short cut: at the bottom of the page you will find a list of links to all current forms and training documents.

Getting Information

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


The scanner3t list is our main vehicle for administration. Everyone who uses the Siemens 3 T scanner should be on this list. (Digest is available if you don't need real time scanner information.) We post announcements of training courses to the scanner3t list, and we communicate any scanner or peripheral equipment problems here, too. You would post to this list for anything scanner-specific, such as a reservation cancellation.

The fMRI list is aimed at scientific discussion, e.g. fMRI data processing issues. The TMS list is for both online and offline TMS related issues, administrative or scientific.

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 any of 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 appropriate, 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 a list.

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:
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regularly scheduled safety training is not being done. Please contact Miguel or Ben for information on current safety training procedures.

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.

When you are running an MRI scan as the scanner operator, you will be responsible for the safe operation of the entire scan session. Effectively, you will be the on-duty safety officer from the moment you enter the MRI suite. That means you will be responsible for your own safety, the safety of your subject, and the safety anyone else you permit to enter the MRI suite (the areas we denote as Zones III and IV). It is therefore imperative that you not only understand the safety information you are taught, but can impart that same information to other people, most of whom will probably never have been around an MRI before.

This safety training does not cover subject safety during a scan, e.g. screening of a potential MRI subject. The additional risks to being scanned are covered in user training. The safety training is strictly for safety around the MRI suite, not being in the MRI scanner.

User Training Prerequisites

To attend formal scanner training classes you must first have passed the 3T safety quiz (see above), 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. 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 might be able to 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 the formal training classes.

Please note, it is not required that you attend these classes in order to become a certified scanner user. An alternative, and usually a better way to go, is to learn to scan by apprenticing under an experienced operator in your PI's lab. Use whichever training method suits you. Perhaps you already have suitable scanning experience and don't need any more training. The only requirement is that you pass the user quiz to be able to scan independently. 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.

3T Scanner Training

Introductory and Intermediate level user training classes happen every 3-6 months or so, depending on demand. Some supporting training videos are available here. These videos may be used to augment training as an apprentice under an existing user, or to reinforce what you learn in classes.

Next Introductory Training Sesssions:
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regularly scheduled introductory user training is not being done. Please contact Miguel or Ben for information on current training procedures.

Next Intermediate Training Sessions:
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regularly scheduled intermediate safety training is not being done. Please contact Miguel or Ben for information on current safety training procedures.

The Introductory level class consists of an hour long demonstration followed by an optional (but strongly advised) hands-on session where trainees practice scanning on a phantom. This training covers basic scanner operation. Intermediate level classes are an interactive 1 - 2 hour session dealing with general bedside manner as we scan an actual person as well as more advanced fMRI acquisition topics; attendees are expected to know basic scanner operation already. Advanced classes for users with intermediate-level fMRI experience will be customized to specific topics based on interest. All class dates and times will be announced to the scanner3t mailing list.

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

Peripheral Equipment Training

Next Peripheral Equipment Training Sesssions:

Peripheral equipment training is offered, roughly, once a year during the Fall semester. This training is intended to be supplemental to the documentation available on the website and is a broad overview of all the equipment that is available for use at the BIC. This includes but is not limited to: eye tracking, physio recording and stimulus presentation.

Peripherals training is treated separate from scanner training. It can also be done on an individual lab basis. Please contact Miguel to set up a time to learn about specific peripheral equipment if you are unable to attend the training session. 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 current CPHS Policies governing MRI examinations at Berkeley, as found at

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.

5. Chapters 4,5,6,7 and 8 from the book by Huettel, Song & Mccarthy, "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging." 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.

8. The BIC scanner suite checklist, for tidying up after a session.

Taking safety and user quizzes

Quizzes are offered on a "drop-in" basis (except after a safety training class, when the safety quiz is offered). There are too many scheduling conflicts to offer fixed times, so instead we request that you simply show up at BIC and ask to take a quiz. The best times to catch someone are the hours of 7 am through 3:30 pm, Mon-Thurs, and 7 am - noon on Fridays. There may be BIC staff around at other times, but the probability of catching someone is lower. Mornings are by far the best bet.

To take the safety quiz (no Zone II access), please ring the intercom at the BIC elevator. This rings the phone in the BIC staff area. If there's no response immediately, try again a few minutes later in case we are moving about the basement.

To take the user quiz (Zone II access already granted), come to the door to the staff space, adjacent to the BIC conference room. Please use the door bell. If there's no response, take a quick look for BIC staff at the scanner before trying the door bell again.

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 Jack Gallant or Chunlei Liu.

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 called Calpendo, link above. To get an account on Calpendo, contact Miguel or Ben having passed the safety quiz. You will be assigned Trainee status, allowing you to view the schedule but not make reservations. You must request a status changed to regular user, allowing you to make reservations on the Siemens 3T, once you pass the user quiz.

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

Testing Room

Using Calpendo, BIC users can reserve room B100G for subject testing. The room contains three soundproof booths, a casual seating area and some test computers. There is no charge and the room can be reserved under any booking group a user has access to. There are hookups for computers to be brought into the booths, but users must supply their own testing equipment. The sitting area can be used for face-to-face interviews, but the room and booths are designated as quiet areas, so noise should be kept to a minimum.

BIC TMS facility

The BIC TMS facility can be reserved using Calpendo once a user has completed all the necessary requirements for being a TMS certified user. At this time there is no charge for using the TMS facility.

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


BIC Card Key Access Request Form
Request for Scanner Reservation Form (for reservations > 1 month away)
Request for Scanner Training Form
BIC Peripheral Equipment Assistance Request Form
BIC Staff Assistance Request Form
BIC Equipment Purchase Request Form
BIC Pilot Scanning/Access Request Form

Scanner Training:

3 T Safety Training Syllabus (Last updated: 11 Dec 2021)
User Training Guide & FAQ (Last updated: 08 March 2012)
How to Screen Subjects for MRI
User QA Protocol
BIC scanner suite checklist
Quick guide for recording %O2 and %CO2 with BIOPAC