Cognitive effects of head-movements in stray fields generated by a 7 tesla whole-body MRI magnet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • F. De Vocht
  • T. Stevens
  • P. Glover
  • A. Sunderland
  • P. Gowland
  • And 1 others
  • External authors:
  • H. Kromhout


The study investigates the impact of exposure to the stray magnetic field of a whole-body 7 T MRI scanner on neurobehavioral performance and cognition. Twenty seven volunteers completed four sessions, which exposed them to ∼1600 mT (twice), 800 mT and negligible static field exposure. The order of exposure was assigned at random and was masked by placing volunteers in a tent to hide their position relative to the magnet bore. Volunteers completed a test battery assessing auditory working memory, eye-hand co-ordination, and visual perception. During three sessions the volunteers were instructed to complete a series of standardized head movements to generate additional time-varying fields (∼300 and ∼150 mT·s-1 r.m.s.). In one session, volunteers were instructed to keep their heads as stable as possible. Performance on a visual tracking task was negatively influenced (P <.01) by 1.3% per 100 mT exposure. Furthermore, there was a trend for performance on two cognitive-motor tests to be decreased (P <.10). No effects were observed on working memory. Taken together with results of earlier studies, these results suggest that there are effects on visual perception and hand-eye co-ordination, but these are weak and variable between studies. The magnitude of these effects may depend on the magnitude of time-varying fields and not so much on the static field. While this study did not include exposure above 1.6 T, it suggests that use of strong magnetic fields is not a significant confounder in fMRI studies of cognitive function. Future work should further assess whether ultrahigh field may impair performance of employees working in the vicinity of these magnets. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2007