About the olympiad

What is the Brain Olympiad? 

The Dutch Brain Olympiad is a challenging knowledge competition about neuroscience for high school students and is part of the International Brain Bee, the international competition with participants from over 50 countries. Secondary school students ages 16 years and older can participate in the Brain Olympiad; students under age 16 are allowed to participate with permission from their parent/legal guardian. The Brain Olympiad consists of a number of components:

  • Multiple Choice knowledge test
  • Recognize brain structures in anatomical specimens
  • Diagnosis of patients (live or video)
  • Live Q&A final round

Brain Olympiad 2021

In 2021 one virtual on-line edition will be organized via the platform SOWISO. The Brain olympiad will take place on Saturday January 30, 2021. 

Registrations are now open; registering is possible until December, 31st 2020. 

Profile and preparation

The Brain Olympiad started in 2019 with a low-threshold knowledge competition (in English). Students who know the information from Brainfacts (approx. 70 pages) of the Society for Neuroscience can participate in the Brain Olympiad without any problems. For the students wanting to go even deeper, the Brain Olympiad provides a study guide, composed of neuroscientific textbooks that are used in introductory courses at the University.

The topics in this guide are of course about the brain, in which biological, psychological, medical and artificial intelligence aspects are discussed. The fascinating world of the brain can be approached from all these different (study) perspectives. The Brain Olympiad offers insight into what is known and is still undiscovered about the brain.

Every secondary school student can register to participate in the Dutch Brain Olympiad. Neuroscience is a broad field where psychologists, physicists, mathematicians, biologists, (bio) chemists, computer scientists, philosophers, linguists and economists work together to study the functioning of the brain. That is why the preparation subjects do not fit exactly into one secondary school profile and we want to emphasize that every student can register, regardless of which profile they have chosen. However, the study material does require some prior knowledge about biology, physics and mathematics. That is why we expect pupils from 4 and 5 VWO and 4 HAVO with Nature & Technology profiles (with biology) and Nature & Health (with physics) to be able to master the material most easily. Final exam candidates are of course also welcome.

NB The international competition has its own study material.

What can you win?

As with all Olympiads, the Brain Olympiad follows a multi-stage model. However, in 2021 we will deviate from this approach due to the current Covid-19 epidemic: óne National Finals will be organized. This will be held on-line and is therefore accessible to students from all over the Netherlands. The top 3 finalists will gain, in addition to honor and fame, access to the national conference on brain sciences: the Dutch Neuroscience Conference (provided the Covid-19 cicrumstances permit this). The finalists will spend a day with the Brain Olympiad team to take a look at the practice of a neuroscientific conference and get to know the latest discoveries. In addition, the Brain Olympiad aims to send the National Finals winner to the International Brain Bee competition to represent the Netherlands there. This will be held (hopefully live) in San Diego, California (USA).


The National Finals of the Brain Olympiad take a full day. Besides the participants in the competition, we welcome teachers, family & class mates on-line as well. Everyone is invited to experience the fascinating world of the brain during the Brain Expo, a fair about brain research, and during our keynote lectures delivered by prominent neuroscientists.


Registrations: Until December 31st,  2020

National Finals 2021: January 30, 2021

Dutch Neuroscience conference: June 10-11th, 2021

IBB world championship: August 12-15th, 2021