College of Science

Quick thinking allows UT Arlington to win 2013 Brain Bowl

UT Arlington's team showed superior brain power and came home with the trophy at the 14th annual Intercollegiate Brain Bowl.

The Brain Bowl, sponsored each spring by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (UTSCSA), is a neuroscience quiz show in which three teams of undergraduates from universities across Texas compete for prizes, bragging rights, and the Brain Bowl trophy.

The Brain Bowl is a quiz show which tests the knowledge of undergraduate neuroscience students. Questions range from relatively easy to very difficult, covering fields of neuroscience research including neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, drugs and the brain, and the brain and behavior. Modeled after the 1960s quiz show 'University Challenge', the Brain Bowl includes three rounds of short answer questions that get more difficult with each round. The final round is a complex 'challenge' question, where teams can wager points they have accumulated in the previous rounds.

This year's competition, held April 16, pitted teams from UT Arlington, Trinity University (the defending champion) and UT San Antonio. UT Arlington team members were seniors Aliza DeNobrega, Matt Fisher, John Perish, Aspen Samuel, Hannah Wriston, and junior Gaurang Gupte. Linda Perrotti, assistant professor of psychology, served as faculty mentor, and Amber Harris and Samara Morris Bobzean served as graduate student coaches.

"The team members were thrilled to win," Perrotti said. "Our win truly came down to the final question. As we entered the final round, UTA stood toe-to-toe (or brain-to-brain) with the UT San Antonio team. The questions were getting progressively tougher and anticipation was building throughout the room. It was an incredibly suspenseful experience and the competition was very close. The event itself was exciting, enjoyable and educational. Our students also had the amazing opportunity to meet faculty and make potential graduate school contacts."

UT Arlington scored 236 points to top runner-up UT San Antonio's 219 points.

Gupte plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. and enjoys working out and relaxing. He wants to visit Mongolia post-bac. Perish is pursuing a bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in cellular neuroscience. He wants to earn a Ph.D. in neuropharmacology and is interested in nutrition, botany, mycology, and ethics. Fisher is a pre-med/psychology major and plans to go to medical school. He loves reading, music and yoga. DeNobrega is a psychology major studying neuroscience. She loves reading novels and working out. Wriston

UT Arlington team members included, from left, faculty mentor Linda Perrotti, graduate student coach Amber Harris, Gaurang Gupte, John Perish, Matt Fisher, Eliza DeNobrega, Hannah Wriston and graduate student coach Samara Morris Bobzean.
is a biology major and plans to go to medical school. She loves collecting medical antiquities, reading, photography, and watching foreign films.

The first Brain Bowl was held in 1998, and over the years it has attracted teams from nine Texas universities. UT Arlington previously competed in the event in 2009.

"This year's team was much more prepared," Perrotti said. "We also had the benefit of experience under our belts."

The team's preparation began three months prior to the event, Perrotti said. Armed with their previously acquired knowledge of neuroscience-related concepts from courses offered in the Department of Psychology, the team met each Saturday with graduate student coaches Harris and Bobzean to expand their expertise. The coaches held a "Jeopardy" style neuroscience question and answer session, with team members competing against one another for speed and accuracy.

To access a video of the event, click here. For a report on the event by Fox 29 TV in San Antonio, click here.

Posted April 26, 2013