Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain’s computational power, study finds.
Natalya Slepneva, a junior from Newton South High School, beat 25 students from 15 local high schools to win the 2007 Boston Regional Brain Bee at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory Feb. 10.
The second- and third-place winners are Eugene Serebryany, a senior at Newton South, and Hanna Bao, a senior at Belmont High School.
Slepneva will go on to compete in the International Brain Bee duringSociety for Neuroscience's Brain Awareness Week, March 12-18, in Baltimore.
The Brain Bee is a live Q&A competition to see which students have the best knowledge of brain function and dysfunction, physiology and chemistry. Using "Brain Facts," a text developed by the Society for Neuroscience, students are tested on paper to qualify for the oral competition, which is limited to the top 10 students.
In a keynote address, Margaret S. Livingstone, professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, described how the brain's visual system processes form, color, depth and movement in art. Livingstone and colleagues looked at photographic portraits of 53 famous artists and found a surprising proportion--28 percent--with misaligned eyes, which would suggest stereo-blindness. The artists with ocular misalignment included Marc Chagall, Edward Hopper, Gustav Klimt, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Man Ray, Chuck Close, Thomas Moran, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and perhaps even Pablo Picasso. This condition, in which one eye becomes dominant, would make it easier for these individuals to translate complex three-dimensional scenes into two dimensions.
The event, sponsored by the local chapter of the National Society for Neuroscience--the Boston Area Neuroscience Group (BANG)--was hosted by the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Other sponsors include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., Brandeis University, Qiagen Inc., the Millipore Foundation and Tufts University.
For more information, see www.tufts.edu/sackler/neuroscience/BANG/BrainBee.html.