Queenslander takes out world brain competition for second year running

26 Sep 2013

Queenslander Jackson Huang has been named the International Brain Bee Champion.

Future neuroscientists from 18 countries around the world met at the International Neurology Congress in Vienna, Austria to compete in the fifteenth International Brain Bee Championship from September 22 to September 24.

The Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for young students, 13 to 19 years of age, in conjunction with the World Congress of Neurology.

“The purpose of the Brain Bee is to motivate young men and women to study the brain, and to inspire them to consider careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences,” says Professor Linda Richards of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) who founded the Australian Brain Bee Challenge.

It is the second year running that an Australian, and indeed a Queenslander has taken out the international final.

“We hope to inspire young Australians to become scientists tackling the cause of neurological disease and mental illnesses and to learn how the brain functions. Australian students entering this competition are consistently out-performing students from other countries at the highest international level which is great news for the future of neuroscience in Australia,” she said.

The competition has three tiers. Worldwide there are about 150 local competitions, each one involving many schools. The winners of local competitions in each country then compete in their respective national championships. In Australia, around 5000 students took part in the competition that named Jackson as the Australian Brain Bee Challenge National Champion.

The national winners from each country then go on to compete in the International Championship. They are tested on their knowledge of the human brain including such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research.

The competition involves oral tests, a neuroanatomy laboratory exam, a neurohistology test, a written test and a patient diagnosis component.

Sample questions include: What kind of molecules are semaphorin, ephrin, neuropilin and plexin? Sonic hedgehog is important for the development of what part of the nervous system? What is the medical term for when you start dreaming before you fall asleep? Stargazer mice are experimental models for which type of epilepsy?

Jackson receives $3000, a trophy, and work experience in a neuroscience laboratory.

For more information, please visit http://www.abbc.edu.au