Indian-American teenagers won the top three spots at the National Brain Bee Championship held March 17-19 in Baltimore, Maryland. The first place went to Arkansas teen Sojas Wagle while Aarthi Vijayakumar of Minneapolis, Minn., and Amit Kannan of Indianapolis, Ind., were placed second and third, respectively.
Winners from 51 chapter competitions in 30 states were tested on their knowledge of the human brain including such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research.
The competition involved a neuroanatomy laboratory practical exam with real human brains, patient diagnosis with patient actors, neurohistology, brain MRI imaging identification and orals. It is sponsored by the Department of Neural and Pain Sciences of the University of Maryland Dental School.
Wagle, a 15-year-old sophomore at Springdale’s Har-Ber High School will participate in the International Brain Bee Championship that will be held in Washington, D.C., Aug. 3-6, in conjunction with the American Psychological Association conference.
Besides a monetary prize Wagle also received a, eight-week internship in a neuroscience laboratory. A donation is also given to the brain disorder charity of the winner’s choice, which is the Alzheimer’s Association.
Wagle told Arkansas Online that his interest in the contest was prompted by his independent study of an Advanced Placement psychology course last year. Wagle, who also does debate and plays the violin, is considering a career in medicine, possibly neurology, but has not yet selected a university. He is the son of of Sameer Wagle, a neonatologist, and Aparna Wagle, a computer laboratory manager for the Springdale School District.
Aarthi Vijayakumar, 15, is a sophomore at Mounds View High School in Minnesota. Her parents are engineers.
Currently there are about 200 Brain Bee chapters in about 40 countries in six continents. Dr. Norbert Myslinski founded the International Brain Bee 18 years ago and says, “Its purpose is to motivate young students to learn about the human brain and inspire them to seek careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences to help treat and find cures for brain disorders. We build better brains to fight brain disorders.”
(This post was updated March 27, 2017)