High school stu­dents bat­tle in an­nual Brain Bee at Mac

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - ROSIE-ANN GROVER rgrover@thes­pec.com 905-526-3404 | @RosieSpec

How many cra­nial nerves are there in the hu­man head?

There are 12. And if you didn’t know it — join the club.

Per­haps just the 15 com­peti­tors in a packed lec­ture hall at McMaster Univer­sity on Satur­day af­ter­noon could an­swer that one.

It was one of dozens of brain-bust­ing ques­tions that left most spec­ta­tors scratch­ing their heads at the 10th an­nual Cana­dian Na­tional Brain Bee cham­pi­onship — a com­pe­ti­tion of neu­ro­science knowl­edge at the high school level.

Pr­erana Keerthi of Toronto is the top brain in Canada, tak­ing the ti­tle after a gru­elling fi­nal round of 20 ques­tions that had to be an­swered orally — and in less than seven min­utes.

Stu­dents were tested on their knowl­edge of neu­ro­science in­clud­ing mem­ory, sleep, in­tel­li­gence, emo­tion, stress and brain imag­in­ing — to name a few.

Keerthi walked away with a $1,500 cash prize and an in­tern­ship in a neu­ro­science lab­o­ra­tory. Keerthi also now goes on to com­pete at the In­ter­na­tional Brain Bee later this sum­mer in Washington, D.C.

“It’s above what we are do­ing in school. I felt pretty anx­ious,” said 16-year-old Mil­ton stu­dent Den­zil Boyd Jr., who made it to the Top 3 and earned a $500 cash prize.

“I feel very hon­oured,” Boyd said. He plans to carve out a ca­reer in neu­ro­science re­search.

His mother was at the com­pe­ti­tion, beam­ing.

“He al­ways strives for the best and he works very hard,” said Ni­cola Boyd.

For the sec­ond-place con­tes­tant, Guelph’s Syd­ney John­son, the best part was the first round pa­tient di­ag­no­sis sim­u­la­tion. Us­ing real hu­man brains in the McMaster anatomy lab, stu­dents first had to iden­tify parts of the brain.

“I stud­ied sheep brains to do it,” said the Grade 12 high school stu­dent who heads to the Univer­sity of Guelph in the fall to study mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy. Like Boyd, she wants to go into neu­ro­science re­search.

Her win net­ted a $1,000 cash prize.

Pr­erana Keerthi

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