WALDWICK, N.J. — Victoria Vought of Holmdel won the 3rd Annual North Jersey Brain Bee, hosted Sunday by Reebel Brain Fitness in Waldwick .
The competition, which featured 10 high school students, tested their knowledge of the brain and neuroscience.
The runners-up were Tamanna Sarowar of Bergenfield and Lily Ge of Old Tappan, both students at Bergen County Academies.
All won cash prizes.
The next step for Vought, 15, who attends High Technology High School in Lincroft, is the nationals at the University of Maryland next month.
Whoever wins on that level competes in the 2017 Brain Bee World Championship .
“I want to go into medicine when I’m older,” Vought told Daily Voice, “and I like exploring different areas to see what field I’d like to specialize in.”
The students faced high-level questions, some of which would be found on medical exams, said Dr. Mill Etienne, one of the judges and a neurologist affiliated with the Bon Secours health system.
The other judge was Dr. Christine Jackson, a genetics researcher.
The Brain Bee doesn’t allow its high-level questions to circulate publicly, but here are two of the more basic-level questions the contestants faced:
Question: Can you name the process by which the adult brain continually generates new nerve cells?
Question: Which neurotransmitter is affected in early Parkinson’s disease?
The woman behind the North Jersey Brain Bee – and the founder of the three-year-old Reebel – is Reena Chawla of Ramsey.
She is both an electronics engineer and a brain injury survivor.
“I started offering brain training more than 10 years ago,” Chawla said.
“Back then brain fitness was not even heard of or known about outside of clinical settings.”
Reebel’s name is a reference to Chawla’s first name: her friends call her “Ree.”
It also invokes the word “rebel” to capture the spirit of the center, whose mission is to rebel against the common notion that engineering is not for children.
The center, on Hopper Avenue in Waldwick, offers the Little Neuron Invention Club for 4- to 6-year-olds as well as a variety of STEM programs that guide children 7 years old and up to design in the worlds of coding, engineering and robotics.
Last but not least, Reebel offers adult programs for people recovering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD and other brain maladies.
Sponsors of the North Jersey Brain Bee are Jessica Bush of Tutor Doctor, based in Hawthorne, and Anita Srivastava of The Hudson West Group at Morgan Stanley, based in Ridgewood.