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AAAS Hosts First “Brain Bee” in DC Area;
Competition Draws Students from Eight Schools
After five rounds against some of the area's brightest students, Corinne Pender, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., won the first National Capital Area Brain Bee, held 24 February, at AAAS. Pender was one of 13 students from eight high schools in the District, Maryland, and Northern Virginia whose knowledge of neuroscience was tested. As the winner, she will compete in the International Brain Bee in Baltimore, Md., March 19-21. Pender also will receive a $250 cash prize.
The students were quizzed by Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health. "What I was taught about the brain 20 years ago is rubbish today because we have developed better tools to study the brain," Dr. Insel told students. "And today's knowledge will be turned on its head by what will be found from the study of the human genome. You can be part of this exciting and still largely uncharted field of science."
Tony Burnetti, a freshman from Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Md., took second place and a $150 cash prize. Third place and $100 went to Jay Levin, a senior at Magruder High School, Rockville, Md. Books and gift bags from the sponsors -- AAAS, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the National Academies, and Society for Neuroscience -- were given to all participating students and their schools.
Corinne Pender lives in Annandale, Va. She won after answering the 25th question correctly: These are ridges on the brain's outer surface. Answer: Gyri (gyrus singular).
The International Brain Bee is one of the events of Brain Awareness Week, an international campaign coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. For more information about the International Brain Bee, visit http://web.sfn.org/baw/bee.cfm.
Here are some of the questions that stumped students (and adults) at the Brain Bee:
What is the name of the material that insulates the axons of some neurons? Answer: Myelin
In what disease does a person suddenly fall asleep without warning? Answer: Narcolepsy
What hollow embryonic structure forms the brain and spinal cord? Answer: Neural tube
What do the letters in the acronym PET stand for? Answer: Positron emission tomography
The auditory nerve terminates in which part of the brain? Answer: Medulla, brainstem
Editor’s Note: All questions came from the book, Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System (2002), published by the Society for Neuroscience.
25 February 2004