Affiliate, Arizona Center on Aging
Researcher, Biology of Aging Research Program
PhD, Carleton University (1977)
The central goal of my research program is the delineation of brain changes during late ontogeny (senescence) and the functional consequences of these changes on information processing and memory in older organisms. A major emphasis of this work has been an examination of the relationship between age-related neurological change in the hippocampal formation (of rat), and the accompanying decline of spatial memory processes. Several areas of neurophysiological study are in progress: synaptic transmission and its modification through experience; postsynaptic integration and electrical excitability; and analysis of single unit activity in the intact freely moving animal. The methods used in our laboratory involve 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. Behavioral tests of spatial perception and memory (known to require an intact hippocampus for their proper performance) are routinely used in conjunction with some of the neurophysiological experiments. 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. My current work also includes an assessment of therapeutic agents that may be promising in the alleviation or delay neural and cognitive changes observed with age.