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The core of the Sacramento Brain Bee consists of the five competition sections, which explore students' knowledge of both theory and practice, in research neuroscience and medical neurology. Expert Neuroscientists will judge the competition at every level. All competition media will be presented in English, but further time will be allowed for ESL students (English as a Second Language). Students may only participate in one local Brain Bee per year.

Upon registration, student participants receive additional information about the study materials, judging expectations, sample questions, and competition format.

Competition Details

study materials

Study Materials

All questions will be derived from these two texts:

"Brain Facts" 2018 Edition, published and made freely available by the Society for Neursocience.

“The 2020 Sacramento Brain Bee Study Guide" by Brain Bee Organizers, freely available to confirmed student participants (password required)

Brain Facts 2018.png



A 10-question multiple-choice and short-answer quiz, to be completed in 10 minutes. Questions may involve graphical analysis and reasoning.


A neuroanatomy practical exam with human brain tissues. 60 seconds are granted at each station to provide structure names and/or basic functions.


Human brain and nervous tissues will be displayed under microscopes. Students must identify the structures by name and/or describe the basic functions of the tissue.


Video footage of patients will be shown alongside a written medical history. Students may request results from two lab or imaging exams to aid in the diagnosis.

Live Q&A

The judging panel will pose questions to the group, occasionally with projected visual components. Students are given 15 seconds to provide their answers.

Competition Rules

The Sacramento Brain Bee expects a high standard of integrity from each student participant. Absolutely zero tolerance will be demonstrated toward acts of cheating. From the audience, as well, no recording devices will be permitted. Professional photography of the event will be available online following the event.

Upon arrival to the UC Davis Medical Center, student participants will receive extended and updated rules for each competition section. At the start of each section, the neuroscientist judges will provide an overview of the rules. Official timekeepers will oversee that all questions are complete within the allotted times. For example, during the Neuroanatomy Section, students will rotate every 60 seconds between table stations, each with one brain and one affiliated question. During the Live Question and Answer Section, different questions may be allotted different lengths of time, which will be clearly stated during the event. Responses will be graded as correct or incorrect: no partial credit will be granted. Incomplete answers are counted as zero points.

The weight of each Competition Section is listed below:

Live Q&A: 25%

Written Quiz: 25%

Diagnosis: 15%

Anatomy: 25%

Histology: 10%

Contestants may bring their personal writing instruments, such as pens, pencils, erasers, and pencil sharpeners. Not permitted are mobile phones, calculators (including watches with built-in calculators), other electronic devices, or any written materials.


Expert Judging Panel


Dr. Carolynn Patten

Director of the  Biomechanics, Rehabilitation and Integrative Neuroscience Lab at UC Davis
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Dr. Rosalee Sprowls

Professor of Neurosciences at Sacramento State University and Academic Coordinator, Sacramento State Stem Cell Program
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Dr. Konstantinos Zarbalis

President of the Davis/Sacramento Society for Neuroscience Chapter,
UC Davis Professor of Pathology/Lab Medicine  
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1st           Invitation to represent Sacramento at the National Brain Bee

                Up to $400 total will be reimbursed for travel and registration fees for nationals

                $100 Amazon Gift Card 

                Champion's Trophy and an Award Medal
2nd          $50 Amazon Gift Card and an Award Medal

3rd           $40 Amazon Gift Card and an Award Medal

4th           $30 Amazon Gift Card and an Award Medal

5th           $20 Amazon Gift Card and an Award Medal

All participants:

                Certificate and Participation Bag with scientific gifts

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