May 5 , 2008


Who has the best brain in Canada?

Hamilton, ON - High school students from across the country will compete for the title of “best brain in Canada” at the first CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee, testing their knowledge of neuroscience and their skill at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy.


The event will be held May 9 and 10 at McMaster University.


It’s the first time the Brain Bee is being held nationally, with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).  Competitors, who range from Grade 9 to Grade 12, have already won their regional championships. This year, there were 9 regional Brain Bees across: Calgary, Edmonton, St. John’s, Halifax, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.


Judith Shedden, associate professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, has organized the Brain Bee for the last five years at McMaster, and is currently chair of the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee Committee.


“Neuroscience research is one of the great frontiers of scientific research,” says Shedden. “The purpose of the Brain Bee is to build awareness in communities across Canada about the importance of this kind of research, and to inspire our brightest students to consider a career in neuroscience. The Brain Bee is an effective recruitment tool, with many brain bee competitors going on to university to study in neuroscience related fields.”


The CIHR Canadian National 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.  The competitors will also diagnose brain damage and disease by interviewing professional patient actors, and identify brain structures and functions of real human brain specimens.


"CIHR is proud to sponsor the first annual Canadian National Brain Bee," said Rémi Quirion, the organization’s scientific director. "This major event will bring together some of the brightest young minds in Canada. One day, these talented students might help us unravel the mysteries behind the human being's complex brain."


The winner of the national competition will receive $1,500, a summer internship in a neuroscience laboratory, a travelling trophy to display at their school for one year, a trophy to keep, and a chance to represent Canada at the International Brain Bee being held this year at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neurosciences, in Montreal on May 26.

More information about the Brain Bee can be found at

About McMaster University

McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 131,000 in 128 countries.

About The Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.


For more information, please contact:

Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988

Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869