McLean Imaging Center

World-Class Imaging Services

The McLean Imaging Center (MIC) is one of the premier imaging sites in the world, providing a rare blend of diagnostic services, cutting-edge research, and high-quality educational programs.

The MIC offers advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnostic scanning. We have three complete physical examination rooms that are also equipped for phlebotomy (blood draws), if needed. In addition, private dressing rooms are available for all patients.

For more information on our services, please call 617.855.3385.

Our research and clinical programs focus on a variety of conditions, including—but not limited to—mood and anxiety disorders, addiction, eating disorders, personality disorders, developmental disorders (e.g., autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease).

MRI provides valuable information that may not be available with other methods.

MR images give exquisite detail of soft tissue structures, such as the brain and spinal cord, as well as ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bones in the skeletal system. Internal organs are also very well visualized. Changes in any tissue structure can reveal the source of a problem.

Research at McLean
The McLean Imaging Center offers state-of-the-art imaging services

A primary care doctor or a specialist will determine if an individual needs an MRI. The doctor may choose an MRI as a way to better understand the nature of a medical or psychiatric problem.

Located on McLean’s main campus in Belmont, Massachusetts, our experienced staff provides a multidisciplinary approach to clinical care.

Additionally, because we are affiliated with a world-class research center, we offer a number of state-of-the-art associated services that may facilitate diagnosis or help track treatment responses.

Brain imaging is revolutionizing medical and scientific research. At the MIC, brain imaging tools and techniques are key to investigating the causes and development of drug and alcohol addiction and other mental illnesses.

MR images show how a disease or injury affects each individual, allowing tailored treatment and facilitating scientific discovery. Imaging tools and techniques help us understand the structures affecting or causing these disorders and develop new treatments—the primary focus of our research.

The increasing power and potential of MRI is a breakthrough that is equivalent to the development of microscopes in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which revolutionized the life sciences.

For further information please visit the McLean Imaging Center website.


Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a medical imaging procedure used to look inside the body. It is noninvasive and uses radio waves, a strong magnet, and a computer to provide details of specific parts of the body. There is no harmful ionizing radiation from an MRI.

The McLean Imaging Center offers standard clinical diagnostic services including MRI of the brain, spine, head/neck, and abdomen/pelvis.

We also offer MR angiography (MRA) of the brain and neck, MR spectroscopy of specific brain region(s), orthopedic/musculoskeletal MRI, and IV gadolinium contrast studies.

We do not currently offer breast MRI, cardiac MRI, or vascular run-off MRI studies.

Our specialty, state-of-the-art equipment includes:

  • 4T Varian Unity/Inova whole body scanner
  • 3T Siemens Prisma whole body scanner
  • 3T Siemens TIM Trio whole body scanner
  • 9.4T Varian small bore scanner for preclinical and ex vivo research
  • Dedicated mock scanner (MRI simulator)
  • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for close examination of white matter
  • Functional MRI (fMRI) for exploring the function of specific brain regions
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for measuring the presence and concentration of various brain chemicals

Visit our dedicated website for more information on our scanners as well as an interactive brain/body map, including sample images.

McLean’s 3T MRI

We also offer specialized advanced magnetic resonance scanning procedures, including functional MRI (fMRI) during neurocognitive task performance, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), proton (1H), phosphorus (31P), and lithium (7L).

Admission & Cost


The McLean Imaging Center is ideal for individuals in need of diagnostic imaging scans to clarify medical or psychiatric symptoms. Most often, a physician or specialist will provide a referral for our services.

For further information about our program or to schedule an appointment, please contact our scheduling coordinator:

Phone: 617.855.3385 or 877.940.8952 (toll free)


The McLean Imaging Center’s services are often covered by insurance, but may require prior authorization. McLean Hospital accepts Medicare, Massachusetts Medicaid, and many private insurance and managed care plans.

More information on insurance providers accepted by McLean Hospital may be found on the Mass General Brigham website. You may also find it beneficial to review McLean’s patient billing and financial assistance information.

Treatment Team

Program Leadership

Scott E. Lukas, PhD

Scott E. Lukas, PhD, Director

Dr. Lukas is also director of the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory, technical director of the Sleep Diagnostics and Treatment Laboratory, and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His current research focus is the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI/fMRI/MRS) techniques to understand drug and alcohol misuse. He is past president of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD

Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, Director

Dr. Pizzagalli is also director of the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research, director of the Laboratory for Translational and Affective Neuroscience, and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His research integrates clinical, behavioral, neuroimaging, and electrophysiological measures to gain a better understanding of mood disorders, particularly depression.

Staff and Associates

Our multidisciplinary team includes specialists in MRI and neuroimaging. Our well-trained clinicians, MR technologists, and support staff have extensive background in the treatment of patients with psychiatric diagnoses.

Staff have experience working with patients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds from across the country and around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the McLean Imaging Center located?

The program is located on the Belmont campus, in the McLean Imaging Center building. For more information on directions, parking, and local accommodations, please visit our Maps & Directions page.

Who benefits most from the McLean Imaging Center?

Our outpatient service processes referrals from the individual’s doctor for those seeking a possible diagnosis from an MRI. We perform scans on all ages, from young adolescence through adulthood.

Is family involved in treatment?

Family may accompany a patient during an MRI, provided it is safe for the family member to enter the scan room. We perform an MRI screening on all patients and visitors before they enter the high field area.

Is smoking permitted?

Smoking is allowed in designated outdoor areas only. Smoking is not permitted in any of our buildings.

Are cell phones and other electronics allowed?

Cell phones may be used in waiting areas, but are forbidden in the MRI high field areas.

Can former patients access their medical records?

All requests for medical records should be directed to McLean’s Health Information Management Department.

Are support groups offered?

To complement our programs’ services and encourage individuals’ initiatives in their own treatment course, many self-help groups are hosted by McLean.

McLean Is Here to Help

Call us today to learn more about imaging options.