Sean Amodeo’s brain is full.
It is crammed with anything one would possibly want to know about the intricacies of the mind. How many neurons does the brain contain? “100 billion,” the Grade 12 student answers without pause. Prozac relieves symptoms of depression by affecting which neurotransmitter? “Serotonin,” he responds in the time it takes to blink.
His impressive knowledge will be put to the test this weekend, when he goes head to head with high school students across the country at the Canadian National Brain Bee at McMaster University, sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Toronto’s hope of having the country’s “best brain” literally rests on Amodeo’s shoulders. In March, he defeated 26 other hopefuls at the local brain bee at the University of Toronto to reach the national finals. “I do pretty good under pressure,” he admits.
His strategy for success is simple: Understand instead of memorize.
“There’s so much stuff to know, so I had to break it up,” said Amodeo, 18, who attends York Memorial Collegiate Institute. “It’s not just a matter of memorization, because you have to understand it to remember it.”