Montreal’s collective IQ will surge today as high-school students from across the city meet to compete in the 2009 Montreal regional Brain Bee competition. This exciting challenge tests for knowledge of the brain and neuroscience. The Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University hosts the competition and graduate students from the institute have been instrumental in mentoring and tutoring the students to prepare them for the challenge, equipping them with tools to become the next generation of scientists.
“The Brain Bee motivates students to learn about the brain, captures their imagination, and inspires them to pursue careers in biomedical brain research,” says David Seminowicz, a post-doctoral fellow at the MNI who along with Emma Duerden and other graduate students at the MNI has helped to organize the local quiz. “It is the energy and passion of these talented and bright students that may help us to find cures for autism, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other brain disorders.”
The Brain Bee is fashioned after a traditional spelling bee, except that students answer questions about memory, sleep, intelligence, emotion, perception, stress, aging, brain-imaging, neurology, neurotransmitters, genetics, and brain disease. Preparation for the local competition is daunting. Students have to learn and digest materials from a 60-page booklet on the brain called ‘Brain Facts’, produced by the Society for Neuroscience which is the basis for the 480 skill-testing questions.
The winner of the local brain bee wins a trip to McMaster University to compete in the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee on May 30 with students from across the country. The winner of that event goes on to compete with students from all over the globe including India, Australia, Egypt and the US, at the International Brain Bee in Baltimore, Maryland.
21 students from 9 schools across the Montreal area are participating in the local contest which is open to all high-school students. In addition to the competition, the Montreal Brain Bee includes games, prizes and a presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Mogil, from McGill’s Department of Psychology.
October 2009 marks the 75th anniversary of the MNI. The MNI is a McGill University research and teaching institute, dedicated to the study of the nervous system and neurological diseases. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, the MNI is one of the world's largest institutes of its kind. MNI researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. The MNI, with its clinical partner, the Montreal Neurological Hospital (MNH), part of the McGill University Health Centre, continues to integrate research, patient care and training, and is recognized as one of the premier neuroscience centres in the world. At the MNI, we believe in investing in the faculty, staff and students who conduct outstanding research, provide advanced, compassionate care of patients and who pave the way for the next generation of medical advances. Highly talented, motivated people are the engine that drives research - the key to progress in medical care. A new building, the North Wing Expansion, is currently under construction and will house state-of-the-art brain imaging facilities. Once the construction is completed and the new building is fully equipped, the scientific community focused on brain imaging research at the MNI will be without equivalent anywhere in the world.