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Carol A. Barnes, Ph.D.
Regents' Professor, Psychology and Neurology
Director, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute
Research Scientist, ARL Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging


Dr. Barnes' research interests involve the delineation of brain changes during late ontogeny (senescence) and the functional consequences of these changes on information processing and memory in older organisms.


The major emphasis of the research in her lab has been an examination of the relationship between neurological change in the hippocampal formation of old rats and the accompanying decline of spatial learning-memory performance.


The methods used include extra- and intracellular stimulation and recording in the in vitro hippocampal slice preparation and extracellular techniques in both the acute (anesthetized) and chronically prepared (unrestrained) animal.


Some recent experiments have also been conducted using the new multiple single cell recording system developed here at the ARL Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging. Behavioral tests of spatial perception and memory (known to require an intact hippocampus for their proper performance) are routinely used in conjunction with the neurophysiological experiments, in order to most effectively assess brain-behavior relationships.


The long-term goal of this work is a more complete understanding of the biological basis for the deterioration of cognitive function known to occur in the elderly. Such an understanding will hopefully lead to the development of neuropharmacological manipulations which much alleviate or delay neurophysiological and neuroanatomical changes known to occur normally with age, and which are responsible for the observed cognitive defects.