2020 France Brain Bee Online

29 Juanary 2021, Paris, France

Sano wins the 2020 France Brain Bee compétition.

Thirty-five students from several cities in France competed in the 2020 France Brain Bee, a national neuroscience competition where students are tested on their knowledge of the brain. Matsuko Sano finished in 1st place, while Carole Hosono and Theo Damiati placed in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Sano was homeschooled while Hosono and Damiati were students at Lycée Louis Le Grande. All three were in their last year in high school.


Matsuko Sano
1st place winner
2020 France Brain Bee

“My two favorite sections were patient diagnosis and neurohistology. Drawing information from a patient’s history and ordering relevant tests to give a diagnosis gave me the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of a neurologist, and allowed me to appreciate some of the complexities of the medical profession.”

Carole Hosono
 2nd place winner
2020 France Brain Bee 


Théo Damiati
3rd place winner
2020 France Brain Bee

The Paris Brain Institute (ICM) hosted and sponsored the event in collaboration with Gifted in France, a not-for-profit association based in Paris. The competition was originally scheduled to take place at ICM on 21 March with 50 students who signed up from multiple schools across France. However, due to the  national lockdown, which went into effect just a week before the competition, everything was put on hold as the country came to a standstill. 

However, in May, ICM team began reorganizing the event as on online competition. The team wanted to give registered students, who had studied hard for the competition, a chance to show off their knowledge.   

“The pandemic forced us to cancel the event that was supposed to bring together the various participants at the Paris Brain Institute,” said ICM. “Together with the institute’s team (researchers, volunteer students, pedagogical team), we worked for weeks from a distance to transform the written and oral competition into a digital version. The challenge was to make sure that we kept the same level of difficulty, and that the competition was accessible to everyone, at the same time and without computer bugs.” 

ICM’s efforts paid off. On Friday 5 June, 35 students joined the online event connecting from their homes in Paris, Sceaux, Cusset, Colomiers, Lacaugne, Saubens, Gannat, Vichy, Abrest, Vendat, Crosne and Maisons-Alfort.

Meet our 2020 France Brain Bee competitors, click here

Congratulations team, you did an amazing job! We’re so proud of you!


CUSSET: By early January, the France Brain Bee competition reached beyond its limit of 50 students for the original competition in March. Students from Paris and towns around Cusett, Lyon and Toulouse filled the spots quickly. This year, even more teachers played a key role in motivating students to participate. Laura Sanchez, a teacher at Lycée Général et Technologique Albert Londres based in Cusset helped motivated 17 students in Terminale/12th  grade to take part in the competition. It was the school’s first participation in the event. In addition to signing up, studying for the material, the students also held fundraisers to be able to pay for their travel and accommodation to Paris, sadly the trip didn’t happen due to the pandemic. However, many of them managed to transition to FBB’s online competition in June.

Above photo: Students from Lycée Général et Technologique Albert Londres in Cusset meet after school to study for the France Brain Bee. (Photo courtesy of  the two photos above, by Laura Sanchez)


Above photo: Students from Lycée Louis le Grande in Paris reviewing Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain And Nervous System, the official study guide for the 2020 France Brain Bee. (photo credit. ELinktart).

TOULOUSE: After contacting France Brain Bee, Morgane  Aubineau, set up the Toulouse Brain Bee to share her enthusiasm about neuroscience education. As researcher, PhD neurodevelopmental and psychopathology, Aubineau reached out to schools and associations in the area and eventually put together a small study group that met on weekends. “I am a brain enthusiast, passionate about research, learning, IT tech and cognitive enhancement. I am a voracious learner and reader and I am eager to share my interests with others, especially curious students.” 

PARIS: Teachers from Ecole Jeannine Manuel and Lycée Louis Le Grand helped neuroscience clubs hold weekly or monthly meetings. At other schools, students from Lycée Camille Sée and Lycée Maurice-Reval as well as one homeschooler took it upon themselves to sign up for the competition and study on their own. 

To be eligible for the competition, students had to be in grades 9-12th (3ème- terminale) and register by the January deadline.  Questions in the competition were based on the material from Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System, which is free and available for download to all interested students.  Study tips and links were posted on the  francebrainbee.org website to help students prepare for the neuroanatomy section of the competition. ICM held two information sessions to help students understand how the online competition would work. 

France Brain Bee (FBB) is an affiliate of the International Brain Bee (IBB) whose mission is to encourage high school students around the world to learn more about their brain, help dispel stigma around neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders, and pursue careers in neuroscience. The winner of the event would have qualified to participate in the annual IBB competition, which this year was due to take place in Washington, D.C., but was canceled due to the pandemic.  In 2019 , the France Brain Bee winner, Seung-Bin Joo from the International School of Paris participated in the 2019 International Brain Bee, which was held in Daegu, South Korea. And, in 2018, the FBB winner, Lilia Evgeniou, eleventh-grader (première) from Ecole Jeannine Manuele competed in the 2018 IBB, held in Berlin, Germany

The International Brain Bee is a non-profit educational organization consisting of partnerships with the American Psychological Association (APA), the Dana Foundation, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). 


  • 35 Students participated including one homeschooler, who won the competition.
  • The age range was 13-19 years-old. They were in grades 9th to 12th (3ème- Terminale) 
  • More than 24 students said they were mother-tongue French, 8 were mother-tongue English, the rest of the participants indicated Japanese, Chinese, Bulgarian as their mother-tongue language. 
  • The students represented 8 schools (7 public, one semi-private.)
  • Of the 35 students: 23 were from Paris and its regions and 13 students came from various towns in France. 

Except for 2 students, this was everyone’s first time participating in the France Brain Bee competition.


France Brain Bee was established through the grass roots efforts of Gifted in France, a not-for-profit based in Paris. The neuroscience event, along with fun brain activities for children, received early support from organizations such as the American Library in Paris, the Association of American Women in Europe (AAWE) and the International School of Paris. In 2018, the Paris Brain Institute (ICM) signed a formal partnership agreement with Gifted in France, becoming the official sponsor and host of the France Brain Bee.

Now, Gifted in France is proud and excited to announce that ICM has formally taken over all aspects of  the competition. We are grateful for its support and commitment to bring brain education to students, schools and communities across the country through their strong global presence and leadership in neuroscience research.

For more information about how you can sign up for the 2021 France Brain Bee, or how to start a brain bee in your school or community, please contact ICM at scientific.affairs@icm-institute.org.

With enormous gratitude and appreciation. we wish everyone best of luck in the years ahead!

Written by: Helen Sahin Connelly

Posted online by : Brian SILVERA