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Considerations for MRI study design and implementation in pediatric and clinical populations


Human neuroimaging, specifically magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), is being used with increasing popularity to study brain structure and function in development and disease. When applying these methods to developmental and clinical populations, careful consideration must be taken with regard to study design and implementation. In this article, we discuss two major considerations particularly pertinent to brain research in special populations. First, we discuss considerations for subject selection and characterization, including issues related to comorbid conditions, medication status, and clinical assessment. Second, we discuss methods and considerations for acquisition of adequate, useable MRI data. Given that children and patients may experience anxiety with the scanner environment, preventing participation, and that they have a higher risk of motion artifact, resulting in data loss, successful subject compliance and data acquisition are not trivial tasks. We conclude that, as researchers, we must consider a number of issues when using neuroimaging tools to study children and patients, and we should thoughtfully justify our choices of methods and study design.

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