McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Brain contest spawns new generation of scientists

Published: May 25, 2010

High school students from across Canada will converge on McMaster University this week to compete for the right to be called the best brain in Canada. Some may stay for their education.

The students, all winners of their regional competitions across the country, will be tested beginning May 29 on their knowledge of neuroscience and their skills at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy.  Topics cover memory, sleep, intelligence, emotion, perception, stress, aging, brain-imaging, neurology, neurotransmitters, genetics and brain disease.

Judith Shedden, an associate professor in McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, started the McMaster Brain Bee eight years ago. Now chair of the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee Committee, she says the purpose of the competition is to encourage a career in one of the great frontiers of scientific research.

It appears to be paying off. Many Brain Bee competitors and winners have gone on to careers in medicine and neuroscience, including Sean Amodeo (Health Sciences), Sanket Ullal (Biology) and Ayan Dey (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour), all of whom are completing undergraduate degrees at McMaster.

Amodeo, last year’s Brain Bee champion, is in his first year in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. "I wanted to learn about one of the most rapidly growing areas of science. The Brain Bee got me interested in neuroscience and inspired me to pursue a career in brain research."

"The Brain Bee laid the foundation," says Ullal, who is starting his fourth year in Biology.  "And it’s definitely given me an edge in research and school projects." 

Dey is starting his fourth year in the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program. "The Brain Bee was my first real exposure to the field of neuroscience and I’ve been hooked ever since."

The CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee is supported nationally by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

"This championship allows the brightest students in Canada to gather and measure their knowledge about the brain, the most complex structure in the known universe," says Anthony Phillips, scientific director at the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. "These talented students represent the future in this field."

Winners receive trophies and scholarship awards of $1,500, $1,000, and $500.  The first-place winner will represent Canada at the International Brain Bee in August in San Diego.

More information can be found at the Canadian National Brain Bee website.

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