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The McKnight Brain Institutes
TH E MCK N I GHT BRAI N INS TITU TE S
The University of Arizona
Founded in 2006, the mission of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Arizona
is to discover the mysteries of the normally aging brain to achieve a lifetime of cognitive health.
Scientists used to view the aging brain as an inevitable story of decline. It’s now known that
the brain continually adapts throughout life— a more hopeful outlook on the world’s most
Because of the inventive research of Dr. Carol Barnes and other affiliated faculty, along with the
continual development of new technologies, the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute is poised to
contribute to southern Arizona as a center for high-level neuroscience, while also improving the
understanding of brain and cognitive health for the entire world.
Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute Leadership
Director, Carol A. Barnes, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Lee Ryan, Ph.D
Director, Dr. Carol A. Barnes is a Regents Professor in the
Departments of Psychology, Neurology and Neuroscience,
the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and
Memory in Aging, Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain
Institute and Director of the Division of Neural Systems,
Memory & Aging at the University of Arizona, Tucson,
Arizona. Dr. Barnes is past-president of the Society
for Neuroscience, an elected Fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, and an
Elected Foreign Member of the Royal Norwegian Society of
Sciences and Letters, and an elected fellow of the National
Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Lee Ryan is a Professor in the Departments of
Psychology and Neuroscience, Associate Director of
the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, Director of the
Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Head of the
Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona,
Tucson, Arizona. Her work focuses on investigating
the aging brain and how memory changes with age
to identify ways to maintain a healthy brain through
healthy lifestyle choices.
Learn more about the Leadership Team on the UA MBI website
Research on the Neurobiology of Cognitive Aging
The investigators at the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Arizona gain insights into brain
function and cognition during aging using multiple animal models that include flies, rodents and nonhuman
primates, as well as human participants. Institute investigators use cutting-edge and specialized behavioral
assessments specifically created to be sensitive to those cognitive domains that change during normative
aging, including tests for humans, as well as tests for the animal models of aging investigated.