(BALTIMORE SUN) — Forty-four of the nation’s brightest high-school students are in Baltimore to test their brains about the brain — in a two-day neuroscience competition that started Sunday morning with a visit to the cadaver laboratory in the University of Maryland School of Medicine and, for many of the teenagers, their first encounter with gray matter.

Some had observed sheep’s brains and rabbit brains in biology class, and all had studied plastic brain models and atlases as they prepared for the fifth annual U.S. National Brain Bee, founded by a University of Maryland neuroscientist. But, in the first round of competition, students had one minute to visit each of 25 lab stations featuring a real brain, smelling faintly of formaldehyde and opened to reveal a section of the neuroanatomy. The students had to corrrectly identify an area marked with a pin.

“Identify this major sulcus,” was the test at station 19. “Identify this area of the cortex associated with Broadmann area 22,” was the challenge at station 24. And when they each arrived at station 17, students were asked to “identify this area connected to the pituitary gland.”

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