The Brain Bee is a competition for high school students, grades 9 through 12. Students are tested on the knowledge about the brain and neuroscience research. It is designed to stimulate interest and excitement about brain research.  Students study topics on memory, sleep, intelligence, emotion, perception, stress, aging, brain imaging, neurology, neurotransmitters, genetics, and brain disease (just to list a few).

The Brain Bee is celebrated in more than 35 countries around the world.

The Brain Bee is an exciting opportunity for high school students to learn about the brain and the importance of brain research. Students have the opportunity to visit the university and meet the students and professors who are doing brain research. It is an avenue of communication, through media and students, to raise awareness of brain research in the community.

The Brain Bee is a mechanism to attract bright young minds to the study of neuroscience. The Brain Bee is an effective recruitment tool.  Many brain bee competitors choose careers in medicine or neuroscience because of their experience as high school competitors in the Brain Bee.

History of the Brain Bee

The Brain Bee is part of Brain Awareness Week (BAW: which was launched in 1996 by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN: and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (, with a mission to increase awareness of neuroscience in the general community. BAW is held each year in March and is celebrated in countries around the world. The Brain Bee, founded by Dr. Norbert Myslinski at the University of Maryland, is focused on participation of high school students. The Brain Bee is a 3-tiered (local, national, international) organization involving regional and national competitions around the world.

Prior to 2008, local brain bee winners went directly to Baltimore to compete in the International Brain Bee, hosted by Dr. Norbert Myslinski at the University of Maryland. Since 2008, countries around the world have been organizing their own national competitions as an intermediate step between the local and international competitions. The international competition is held in a different location around the world each year.  In recent years the international brain bee has been hosted at Montreal, Toronto, Washington DC, Vienna, and Cape Town. In 2015 the IBB will be hosted at Cairns, Australia.

Our volunteers

The Canadian National Brain Bee has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research since our national competition began in 2008. This financial support is further extended by substantial time and resources from volunteers at McMaster.  Our McMaster team consists of volunteers, including staff, students, and faculty from the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB), the McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study (MiNDS), and Faculty of Health Sciences. with financial support from the Faculty of Science at McMaster. The large team of volunteers is led by Dr. Judith Shedden (chair), with organizational help from many people over the years. Dr. Joe Kim, Matt Pachai, and Chris McAllister were especially involved in the early years. Dr. Laurie Doering has run the neuroanatomy bellringer for many years. Recently, we have welcomed Dr. Ayesha Khan as the senior coordinator. Our event coordinator is Esther Manoian.

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 156,000 alumni in 140 countries.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.