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.