OK, braniac, pop quiz to prep you for the (very real) Brain Bee

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]

SCRANTON — Quick, what’s the largest part of the human brain? How long do infants sleep? About how many neurons does the brain contain?

If you answered, in order, “the cerebrum, duh,” “up to 18 hours, regardless of what sleepless first-time parents say,” and “That would be about 100 billion, with a B, though it may be less for some news reporters,” then you probably are a) a smart aleck and b) a good candidate for participation in the upcoming regional Brain Bee — assuming you are in grades 9-12.

The University of Scranton will host the Northeast Pennsylvania Brain Bee on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. in the Loyola Science Center. But that’s just the local start of something global. Victory in the regional bee means a crack at the national competition (March 16-18 in Baltimore) and that leads to the International Brain Bee, to be held in Germany this year.

The IBB is the, er, brainchild of Dr. Norbert Myslinski from the University of Maryland Dental School, Department of Neural and Pain Sciences. According to the IBB website, the idea “is to motivate young men and women to learn about the human brain, and to inspire them to enter careers in the basic and clinical brain sciences.”

The motivation seems to be succeeding. The website says the competition has grown to more than 160 chapters in 40-plus countries.

At the University of Scranton, the bee is sponsored by the Neuroscience Program. There is no charge to participate, but there is a registration deadline: Jan. 31. Those interested in competing can register online at sites.google.com/site/nepabrainbee/ , or contact Robert Waldeck at the university, 570-941-4324 or [email protected]

The winner of the local bee gets $400 to offset costs of attending the national contest, and a $1,000 scholarship to the University of Scranton.

And if you want to study, that’s free too. The questions for this bee come from the book Brain Facts, available for download at the Society for Neuroscience website, sfn.org. It may not be a page turner, but it can boost your sense of self worth. Consider this from the introduction:

The human brain — a spongy, three pound mass of tissue — is the most complex living structure in the universe. With the capacity to create a network of connections that far surpasses any social network and stores more information than a supercomputer, the brain has enabled humans to achieve breathtaking milestones — walking on the moon, mapping the human genome, and composing masterpieces of literature, art, and music.


By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish