The IHSPO (International Brain HSP Olympiad) was established in April 2005 by the Korea Institute of Brain Science (KIBS), the advisory institution in science and technology for IBREA. Its aim is to promote the authentic value of the human brain.

Unlike existing international Olympiads by UNESCO, which evaluate knowledge in specific subjects like mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, information, or astronomy, the IHSPO competition emphasizes the utilization and development of the human brain. The inaugural competition attracted 35,000 participants from three countries, and by the second competition, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica was in attendance.

Since 2008, IBREA and the founding organization KIBS have co-hosted the IHSPO international competition. Additionally, they sponsor a plethora of related activities and sub-events, including Brain Education seminars, professional symposiums, and youth camps. Through these, many participants have come to appreciate the importance and values of optimal brain utilization.

Evaluation events

Brain Window

This event assesses the HSP (Heightened Sensory Perception) ability to perceive under heightened brain concentration. With vision obstructed (our primary sense), participants identify information using elevated perception.

Abilities Evaluated: heightened sensory perception, metacognitive ability

Speed Brain

Speed Brain tests short-term and working memory by having participants observe 9-16 differently colored shapes for 4 seconds and then recall them. Typically, the human brain only retains a fraction of visually acquired information. “Speed Brain” aims to bolster short-term memory, working memory, and snap cognition, leveraging the brain’s capability for photographic memory.

Abilities Evaluated: short-term memory, working memory, instant cognition


The HSP Gym involves deliberate control of one’s breathing, posture, and mindset. It effectively boosts not only physical strength but also balance, concentration, and endurance. Since all body parts connect to the brain, physical training can also enhance brain functionality. This program further instills confidence as participants overcome personal barriers.

Abilities Evaluated: balance, left-right brain coordination, emotion regulation

HSP 12 Steps

This test focuses on the assessment of physical control abilities, emphasizing movement—a core function of the human brain. It evaluates capabilities such as muscular endurance, balance, and left-right brain coordination. The test comprises twelve steps, with only those who can finish the twelfth step eligible to participate in the national and international competition.

Abilities Evaluated: physical control (muscular endurance, balance, left-right brain coordination)

Past International Brain HSP Olympiads

IHSPO 2008

The Fourth International Brain HSP Olympiad was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This event marked a significant milestone in the globalization of Brain Education, with over 500 participants from 10 countries. The Olympiad coincided with the UN International Youth Day celebration and received sponsorship from the Education Committee of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO) and the UN-ECOSOC NGO section. Notable among the event’s highlights was a special lecture by Dr. Hee-Sup Shin, President of the KIST Center for Neuroscience.

IHSPO 2009

The fifth installment took place once again at the UN headquarters in New York. The event attracted over 200 participants from 10 different countries. It featured an international seminar with contributions from neuroscientists and educators:

  • “Understanding of Human Rights” by Diane Ala’i, co-chair of the Education Committee of CONGO
  • “Digital Brain: How the Brain Works Well” by Murali Doraiswamy, Professor of Medicine at Duke University
  • “The Brain and Earth Citizenship” by Ilchi Lee, President of IBREA

IHSPO 2015

The Tenth International Brain HSP Olympiad saw 800 regional competition winners from fifteen cities across Korea and Japan. This year’s Olympiad introduced the HSP 12 Steps as a demonstration event to highlight the interconnectedness of the brain and body through physical control and balancing abilities.

Event details:

  • Date: October 18, 2015
  • Location: International Brain Education University, Cheonan, Korea
  • Finals: Around 800 participants from Korea and Japan

A “Brain Concert” preceded the main event, showcasing various self-development and artistic activities, setting the stage for the opening of the Benjamin School for Character Education in Japan, which is gaining recognition as a pioneering model for future education founded on Brain Education principles.

IHSPO 2016

The Eleventh International Brain HSP Olympiad took place at Honor’s Haven in New York, with a remarkable turnout of over 3,000 young participants from Korea, the U.S., China, and Japan.

Event details:

  • Date: August 2, 2016
  • Location: Honor’s Haven, New York, U.S.
  • Finals: Approximately 300 participants from Korea, the U.S., China, and Japan

In conjunction with the competition, an Earth Citizen Youth Leadership Camp was held, celebrating the first year of UN SDG implementation in collaboration with the Earth Citizens Organization USA.

Additionally, Noh-hun Kim, the grand prize winner from the previous year, delivered a speech as the Korean youth representative at the Youth Mental Wellbeing Conference held at the UN headquarters in New York, under the auspices of the IBREA Foundation.