Adam Molon, a student at Andrean High School, was declared the winner of the second annual Brain Bee competition, hosted by IU Northwest on Feb. 4. He is slated to represent Northwest Indiana at the International Brain Bee competition March 18-19 at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Among the competition tasks at the national level will be identifying 30 elements of the human brain and their functions.
IU Northwest’s Karl Nelson (in
academic garb at left) reads a question during the second
annual Brain Bee held on the Gary campus Feb. 4. Judges
(seated on stage) were Carl Marfurt, professor of neuralscience
at the Northwest Center for Medical Education and Cynthia
O’Dell, associate professor of psychology.
Several high schools surrounding the IU Northwest campus
sent students to the live competition, which tests students’
knowledge of the field of neuroscience. Contestants come prepped
from studying the text called Brain Facts, published
by the Society for Neuroscience.
The text is supplied to high school teachers before the event and contains questions pertaining to such areas as memory, intelligence, emotions, sensations, stress and brain disorders.
According to Karl Nelson, assistant professor of psychology at IU Northwest who also serves as adviser to the student Psychology Club, participants not only have a good time, but learn a lot as well.
“I think that all students who attended the Brain Bee benefited. First, the students gained more knowledge of how the brain works, and of relationships between brain functioning and many behaviors,” Nelson said. “Often these relationships are taken for granted. Thus, the studying for the competition also has a potential secondary benefit. Students may come to understand themselves and those around them in greater depth.
“Third and most importantly, the students appeared to have quite a bit of fun during the individual and team competition. This is important because enjoying these topics now has, I believe, the greatest possibility of increasing student interest during the college years in related fields.” Those fields include psychology, nursing, medicine, biology and artificial intelligence, among others.
The week of March 14–20 is National Brain Awareness Week, organized in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience to alert the public to advances in neuroscience and to the importance of continued research and education.
The week has become both a national and international event, involving programs in 29 countries developed by universities, hospitals, government agencies, research centers and patient advocacy groups around the world, including the National Alzheimer’s Association and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
For more information about Brain Awareness Week:
Sample Questions from the Brain Bee:
Here are some of the 800 questions that were used in the competition:
1. Q: Approximately how many neurons does the brain contain?
A: 100 billion
2. Q: Name the device that measures brain waves.
3. Q: Stargazer mice are experimental models for which type of epilepsy?
A: Petit mal epilepsy
4: Q: Prozac relieves symptoms of depression by affecting what neurotransmitter?