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No matter how difficult the questions are, the South Island Secondary Schools Brain Bee Challenge is no place to lose your head.
Pupils from Christ's College in Christchurch managed to keep their cool and their synapses firing to finish first in both the teams and individuals competitions - despite many of the questions in the final being ''jolly hard''.
Christ's College pupil Matthew Moore was named the South Island's best brain and will represent the region in the Australasian Brain Bee Challenge final in Perth, in April next year.
He was one of about 90 year 11 pupils from 19 schools across the South Island who converged on the University of Otago yesterday to vie for the honours.
Unfortunately, no Otago schools reached the final of the teams or individuals events.
In fact, it was a clean sweep for Christchurch, with all prizes going to schools from the city.
The pupils were questioned on topics such as intelligence, memory, emotions, sensations, movement, stress, ageing, sleep, addiction, Alzheimer's and stroke during the day-long competition at Otago Museum's Hutton Theatre.
University of Otago anatomy lecturer and event co-ordinator Dr Ruth Napper said the questions were extremely difficult.
''They test knowledge of everything from the symptoms of brain diseases to the biochemical aspects of how brain cells function.
''They are jolly hard questions - there are some very clever students in the competition this year.''
It was the seventh year the competition had been held, and it aimed to encourage pupils to take an interest in the human brain and neuroscience, Dr Napper said.
As well as competing in team and individual challenges, the competitors attended short lectures from some of Otago's leading neuroscientists and were taken on tours of laboratories involved in neuroscience research at the University of Otago.
If Matthew did well in the Australasian final, he could represent Australia and New Zealand at the International Brain Bee, Dr Napper said.
Results were. -
Teams event: Christ's College (Christchurch), 1; Riccarton High School (Christchurch), 2; Villa Maria College (Christchurch), 3.
Individual event: Matthew Moore (Christ's College), 1; Rachel Wu (Riccarton High School), 2; Jamin Kim (Riccarton High School), 3.