About the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute

The mission of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute is to discover the mysteries of the normally aging brain to achieve a lifetime of cognitive health.

Founded in 2006 at the University of Arizona, the institute is one of only four McKnight Institutes nationally.

The Institute is directed by internationally recognized expert in brain aging, Carol Barnes,  Regents Professor in Psychology and Neurology.  

More than 30 affiliate faculty contribute to the Institute through their work on normal aging in fields as diverse as optics, psychology, and physiology. These top researchers create a hub of expertise on aging and the brain, with a particular focus on brain mapping to identify memory circuits and how they change over the lifespan.

We work to understand normal changes in the brain as it ages, in the hopes of developing practical lifestyle recommendations and treatments that will lead to better memory, and longer, fuller cognitive lives for all.


CLARITY method

In the lab, McKnight researchers are learning how memory changes over time, recording live brain activity at a cellular level, and mapping cell activity across the entire brain with new molecular imaging methods.

They are also developing a method called CLARITY, which makes the brain translucent, and are building a novel microscope that can see deep inside an entire brain to identify relevant memory circuits.

Normal Brain Aging

Understanding how the brain ages normally is also a fundamental step toward furthering treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases.

We can’t return a brain back to normal if we don’t first understand what that normal is.