Music in MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imagery or ‘MRI’ is a type of body scanner used in the treatment and monitoring of a multitude of medical conditions. Whilst the resolution and accuracy of MRI technology is advancing all the time, the environment of the scanner remains confined, dark and noisy.

The first aim of our project is to investigate patient experiences of different sound environments within MRI.

Most MRI scanners are now able to offer music and other sounds to patients through the specially adapted headphone systems that allow the Radiology team to communicate with a patient during scans. However, at present there are no guidelines or evidence-based advice on how these same headphones may be used to deliver an improved sound environment during an MRI scan for patients.

Our team is currently conducting the first randomised controlled trial of sound use during MRI scans (including music). Our first trials are focusing on the experiences of the multiple MRI scans offered to breast cancer patients.

Our work has the potential to impact on present policy regarding uses of music in MRI scanners. Our techniques will then be adapted to investigate sound conditions in countless other clinical environments.

Collaboration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust and Kings College, London

The Vice Chancellor’s Fellowship Scheme at the University of Sheffield has given support for three years to establish a network between Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust, Kings College London, and the University of Sheffield. The network will be used to build a programme of research investigating the use of music in hospital environments, beginning with MRI.


Dr Victoria Williamson
Dr Geoff Charles-Edwards
Radiology Team and Breast Care Nurses at Guy’s Hospital, London

Participate in Research

You can follow our research by following the regular updates that are posted on Dr Victoria Williamson’s blog at