College Acquires First MRI Scanner Explicitly for Research

Dartmouth became the first U.S. college or university to own and operate a magnetic resonance imaging scanner housed in an academic department.

Researchers are welcoming the arrival of a new MRI scanner, the latest in a series of scanners dating back to 1999, when Dartmouth became the first U.S. college or university to own and operate a magnetic resonance imaging scanner housed in an academic department—not in a hospital, medical school, or other medical setting—to be used strictly for research purposes.

The new scanner, weighing more than 26,000 pounds, was lowered into its bay beneath Moore Hall last month, in the home of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS).

“This is a big deal,” says James Haxby, the Evans Family Distinguished Professor and director of both the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the Brain Imaging Center. “We are extremely excited about getting this new scanner. It will be in use seven days a week, from early morning to late at night.”

Over the years, the Brain Imaging Center’s MRI scanners have been used for researching questions about the organization of the brain, the concept of free will, the role of the amygdala in learning and anxiety disorders, and how the brain recognizes music, visual imagery, and its relation to memory.

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