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SMU student puts brain to the test

May 24 2012

Victoria's first competitor in the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee will be vying for the Best Brain in Canada title this weekend in Hamilton, Ont.

The fifth annual competition, sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, tests high school students on their knowledge of brain research and neuroscience.

Most of the material in the contest is outside of the high school curriculum, so Eugene Tang has been studying for weeks to prepare.

Tang, 17, will be Victoria's first representative in the competition.

The St. Michaels University School student, who heard about the bee from his psychology teacher, won the local event to advance to the finals at McMaster University.

The competition, which sees students analyzing human brains and diagnosing patients in tests similar to those taken by medical students, comes at a critical point in brain research, said contest organizer Judith Shedden.

"There's so much that we have learned about the brain in the past few decades," she said. "We're really on the cusp of learning about diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, so we want to attract the brightest students who may be the neuroscientists of tomorrow."

It's a path Tang, who came to Canada from Hong Kong last year, is already pursuing.

The Grade 12 student will be attending the University of Toronto in the fall to study psychology, hoping to follow in the steps of his father, a clinical psychologist.

The winner of this weekend's Brain Bee will represent Canada at the International Brain Bee in Cape Town, South Africa, in late July.

mkaralis@timescolonist.com

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