I worked at this project in collaboration with King's College London for the St Thomas' Hospital and the Centre for the Developing Brain.
A research group from the Perinatal Imaging and Health Department, King's College London, is investigating brain plasticity in children who were born very pre term (http://pretermresearch.org/). Many families have been involved in the study an 8 years old children have been asked to have a developmental assessment and an MRI Scan.
Having a MRI Scan is not an easy experience: the scanner is loud, it makes strange sounds, and participants have to lie still in a very small tunnel for nearly an hour while wearing a little helmet called coil.
A big work has to be done to make the experience pleasant for the children and to assure a good quality of the images.
In order to do this, researchers like Anita Montagna, have developed a little training to prepare children prior to have an MRI Scan. This includes the use of an inflatable MRI Scanner where children can play before the real session.
The training aims at familiarizing children with the scanner experience and the entire session is structured as a spaceship adventure.
As part of the training, children need to get used to the scanner sounds. In order to do this, perceptual desensitisation strategies are used and I was asked to develop a musical toy to help children get used to the sounds in a fun, creative and interactive way.
I built a dj console which allows children to create a song using the sounds of the real MRI sequences used in the study.
After having and MRI scan myself, I had the chance to sample the MRI sounds. I also composed a song about MRI using the same sounds.
The week before the scanning session, the children are invited to listen to the song and to learn more about what MRI is and how it works. On the day of the scan, they sing the song with the trainer and create their own song with the console while learning the different sounds of the sequences and getting used to loud volumes. The song (obviously called "MRI") and the lyrics will be uploaded on the research website very soon allowing families to have an easier access to the training material.
At the moment 20 scans have been successfully done with very positive feedback from children, parents and research team.
An App will be released soon.