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Séminaire impromptu - Jennifer Rodger Brain stimulation in animal models: happy mice and active brain cells

Abstract :

Non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS) directly modulate neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity.
In other words, rTMS changes the way in which the brain works and therefore has therapeutic potential for neurological conditions and brain injury.

However, rTMS has had disappointing therapeutic outcomes because of high inter-individual variability: Brain stimulation is delivered to an awake, active brain and therefore interacts with intrinsic brain activity at the time of treatment.
Therefore, in order to induce reliable and therapeutic changes in brain function, we propose that it will be necessary to define not only appropriate rTMS parameters, but additionally control brain state before, during and/or after stimulation, for example by asking patients to complete specific physical and/or mental tasks.

Because the influence of brain state on the clinical outcomes of rTMS interventions is poorly understood, we first need to acquire a mechanistic understanding of how rTMS interacts with intrinsic brain activity in an animal model. To do so, we have developed a method to apply NBS to awake, behaving mice. I will describe the biophysical approach and rationale for designing small animal rTMS coils, as well as in vivo and in vitro studies in a range of mouse models that probe the cellular and molecular mechanisms of LI-rTMS.

Our experiments aim to facilitate the translation of validated and individualised rTMS protocols to match each patient’s needs.

Selected publications

1. A D. Tang, A Garrett, A S. Lowe, R Woodward, W Bennett, A J. Canty , M I. Garry, M R. Hinder, J J. Summers, R Gersner, A Rotenberg, G Thickbroom, J Walton, J Rodger. (2016). Construction and evaluation of rodent-specific TMS coils. Front Neural Circuits. 2016 Jun 30;10:47. 

2. Makowiecki, K, Harvey, AR, Sherrard RM, Rodger J. (2014) Low-Intensity Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Improves abnormal Visual Cortical Circuit Topography and upregulates BDNF in Mice. J Neuroscience, 34:10780 –10792.

3. Rodger J., Mo, C., Wilks, T., Dunlop, SA., Sherrard, RM. (2012) Transcranial pulsed magnetic field stimulation facilitates reorganisation of abnormal neural circuits and corrects behavioural deficits without disrupting normal connectivity. FASEB Journal 26, 1593-606.

Scientific focus :

Dr Jennifer Rodger is Senior Lecturer at Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia.
She completed a BScHons in Biochemistry at the University of Bath, UK, followed by a PhD at the University Pierre et Marie Curie, France. Her research team investigates mechanisms of brain plasticity and repair, including preclinical studies of non-invasive brain stimulation in injured and abnormal brain circuits.

Dr Rodger has published over 90 peer-reviewed papers in journals including the Journal of Neuroscience and FASEB Journal and her work is funded by the NHMRC, ARC and Neurotrauma Research Program (WA).