Research shaping
the future of


Specialist clinics
quality of life


Brain Plasticity Research

The aim of the Perron Institute’s Brain Plasticity Research led by MSWA Senior Research Fellow in Brain Plasticity, Associate Professor Jennifer Rodger, is to understand the mechanisms of brain plasticity and apply this understanding to improve brain function in healthy individuals, and in patients with neurological conditions.

The group’s research explores the physiological, cellular and molecular basis of brain plasticity in order to develop therapeutic strategies to improve brain plasticity in patients, with the goal of developing effective treatments for patients with neurotrauma and neurological disease. This includes utilising non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as repetitive transcranial stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation.

Neurotrauma and neurological disease account for over a quarter of all chronic disability in Australia, so a healthy brain is of fundamental importance to human health. Brain Plasticity Research is developing interventions that promote healthy brain development and function throughout life, as well as repairing damaged brains after injury.

Research Focus

Brain Plasticity Research addresses the development and repair of brain circuitry, providing insights into the causes and potential treatments of mental illness, a National Research Priority. Their key focus areas are:

1: Fundamental research into development of brain topography

2: Medical research into treatments for neurological conditions

2a: Mechanisms of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)

2b: Investigating rTMS interaction with normal brain activity


Postdoctoral fellow

Dr Alex Tang 

Dr Alesha Heath (at Stanford University, California)

PhD students

Jamie Beros (4th year) (currently at the University of Bordeaux, Nicolas Baudin exchange program)

Katherine Hankinson (4th year)

Darren Clarke (4th year)

Bhedita Seewoo (3rd year, Forrest Scholar)

Eugenia Poh (3rd year)

Leanne Jiang (2nd year, BioZone)

Jessica Moretti (1st year)

Honours student

Michelle Carey

Research Assistants

Marissa Penrose-Menz

Kerry Leggett

Dan Binks




  • 2018-2020 NHMRC APP1139041 (Kaylene Young, Jennifer Rodger) Using Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Promote Myelin Repair in the Central Nervous System
  • 2018-2020 DP180101494 (Kaylene Young, Jennifer Rodger, Gaetan Burgio) How do myelinating cells alter brain circuits to facilitate learning?
  • 2017 – 2021 ITTC IC170100016. Stewart, Pfleger, Voelcker, Pébay, Dottori, Lee, Elnathan, O’Connor, Rodger, Palaniswami, Doyle, Kennedy, Kameneva, Heng, Sercombe, Pouton, Zheng, Mangum, Volery, ARC Training Centre for Personalised Therapeutics Technologies, ITTC 2016. 2017 – 2021: $667,885; $865,613; $987,649; $567,469; $327,737
  • 2017    Kaylene Young, Carlie Cullen, Jennifer Rodger. Enhancing activity to drive myelin repair in a Preclinical Model of Multiple Sclerosis. MS Research Australia. $170,000
  • 2017    Rodger. Interaction of brain state with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to promote brain repair. Neurotrauma Research Program. AUS$ 97,428
  • 2017 Etherton-Beer, Rosenberg, Rodger, Shaykevich, Vallence. Music and Movement Rhythm Training Using a Novel Mobile-Phone App. Medical Research Foundation. $18,000


    • Makowiecki K, Garrett A, Harvey A, Rodger J. Low-intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation requires concurrent visual system activity to modulate visual evoked potentials in adult mice. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-23979-y
    • Seewoo BJ, Feindel KW, Etherington SJ, Rodger J (2018) Resting-state fMRI study of brain activation using low-intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in rats. Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-24951-6
    • Tang A, Bennett W, Hadrill C, Collins J, Fulopova B, Wills K, Bindoff A, Puri R, Garry M, Hinder M, Summers J, Rodger J, Canty A. (2018) Low intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation modulates skilled motor learning in adult mice. Scientific Report, Accepted 22/2/2018
    • I Hong, A Garrett, G Maker, I Mullaney, J Rodger, S Etherington. Repetitive Low intensity magnetic field stimulation in a neuronal cell line: a metabolomics study. PeerJ, Accepted 24/02/2018
    • Seewoo BJ, Etherington SJ, Feindel KW, Rodger J (2018) Combined rTMS/fMRI studies: an overlooked resource in animal models. Frontiers in Neuroscience accepted 6/3/2018
    • Wilson, Marcus; Tang, Alexander; Iyer, Kartik; McKee, Holley; Waas, Jake; Rodger, Jennifer. The challenges of producing effective small coils for transcranial magnetic stimulation of mice”. Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express. BPEX-101021 accepted 8/3/2018
    • Heath E, Lindberg DR, Makowiecki K, Gray A, Asp AJ, Rodger J*, Choi DS*, Croarkin PE*. Medium- and High-Intensity rTMS Reduces Psychomotor Agitation with Distinct Neurobiologic Mechanisms. Translational Psychiatry. Accepted 19/02/2018. * indicates equal contribution.
    • Poh E, Makowiecki K, Harvey AR, Rodger J. (2018) Online LI-rTMS during a visual learning task: differential impacts on visual circuit and behavioural plasticity in adult ephrin-A2A5-/- mice. E-neuro accepted 31/01/2018
    • Downs J, Rodger J, Li C, Tan X, Hu N, Wong K, de Klerk N, Leonard H. (2018) Environmental enrichment intervention for Rett syndrome: an individually randomised stepped wedge trial. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 13(1):3
    • Beros J, Rodger J, Harvey AR. (2018) Developmental retinal ganglion cell death and retinotopicity of the murine retinocollicular projection. Dev Neurobiol. 78(1):51-60
    • Clarke D, Penrose MA, Penstone T, Fuller-Carter PI, Hool LC, Harvey AR, Rodger J, Bates KA. (2017) Frequency-specific effects of repetitive magnetic stimulation on primary astrocyte cultures. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 35(6):557-569
    • Homman-Ludiye J, Kwan W, de Souza M, Rodger J, and Bourne J (2017) Ephrin-A2 regulates excitatory neuron differentiation and interneuron migration in the developing neocortex. Scientific Reports 7(1):11813
    • Clarke D, Penrose M, Harvey AR, Rodger J, Bates K. (2017) Low intensity rTMS has sex-dependent effects on the local response of glia following a penetrating cortical stab injury. Experimental Neurology, 295, 233-242.
    • Yates, Robertson, Rodger, Martin-Iverson. 2016. Effects of Neonatal Dexamethasone Exposure on Adult Neuropsychiatric Traits in Rats. PLoSONE 11(12):e0167220
    • LeVaillant CJ, Sharma A, Muhling J, Wheeler LPG, Cozens GS, Hellstršm M, Rodger J, Harvey AR. 2016. Significant changes in endogenous retinal gene expression one year after a single intraocular injection of AAV-CNTF or AAV-BDNF. Molecular Therapy, 3 :16078
    • Mulders WHA, Vooys V, Makowiecki K, Tang A, Rodger J. 2016 The effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in an animal model of tinnitus. Scientific Reports, 6:38234.
    • Grehl S, Martina D, Rodger J, Deng ZD, Sherrard R. 2016 Optimizing in vitro magnetic stimulation: a simple, adjustable and cost-efficient stimulation device that can be tailored to different experimental requirements. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 10, 85
    • Sykes, M, Matheson N, Brownjohn P, Tang A, Shemmell J, Rodger J, Reynolds J. 2016 Effects of anesthesia on motor evoked potentials induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation in rats: implications for plasticity studies. Submitted Frontiers in Neural Circuits 10, 80
    • Tang AD, Hong I, Boddington LJ, Garrett AR, Etherington S, Reynolds JN, Rodger J. (2016) Low-intensity repetitive magnetic stimulation lowers action potential threshold and increases spike firing in layer 5 pyramidal neurons in vitro. Neuroscience 335:64-71.
    • 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.
    • Richman T, Spahr H, Ermer J, Davies S, Viola H, Bates K, Papadimitriou J, Hool L, Rodger J, Larsson N, Rackham O, and Filipovska A. Loss of the RNA-binding protein TACO1 causes late-onset mitochondrial dysfunction in mice. Nature Communications, 20;7:11884. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11884.
    • You, SW, Hellstršm M, Pollett MA, LeVaillant C, Moses C, Rigby PJ, Penrose M, Rodger J, Harvey AR. (2016) Large-scale reconstitution of a retina-to-brain pathway in adult rats using gene therapy and bridging grafts: an anatomical and behavioral analysis. Experimental Neurology 279:197-211.
    • Wiejeratnie D, Rodger J, Wood F, Fear M. (2016). The role of Eph receptors and Ephrins in the skin. International Journal of Dermatology 55 (1), 3-10.
    • A Tang, G Thickbroom and J Rodger. (2015) Animal and experimental models of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The Neuroscientist Dec 7. pii: 1073858415618897. [Epub ahead of print]
    • Fuller-Carter PI, Carter KW, Anderson D, Harvey AR, Giles KM, Rodger J. (2015). Integrated analyses of zebrafish miRNA and mRNA expression 1 profiles identify miR-29b and miR-223 as potential regulators of optic nerve regeneration. BMC Genomics 16 (1), 591.
    • Moses C, Wheeler LPG, LeVaillant CJ, Kramer A, Ryan M, Cozens GS, Sharma A, Pollett MA, Rodger J Harvey AR. 2015 The acquisition of target dependence by developing rat retinal ganglion cells. eneuro 2 (3), ENEURO. 0044-14.2015
    • Tang AD, Makowiecki K, Bartlett CA, Rodger J. 2015 Low intensity repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation does not induce cell survival or regeneration in a mouse optic nerve crush model. PLoS ONE 10: 5, e0126949
    • Makowiecki K, Garrett A, Clark V, Graham SL, Rodger J. 2015 Reliability of VEP recordings using chronically implanted screw electrodes in mice. Translational Vision Science & Technology 4:2.
    • Challenor M, O’Hare Doig R, Fuller P, Giacci M, Bartlett C, Hool L, Dunlop SA, Swaminathan Iyer K, Rodger J, Fitzgerald M. Prolonged glutamate excitotoxicity increases GluR1 protein but decreases mRNA of GluR1 and associated regulatory proteins in dissociated rat retinae in vitro. Biochimie 112, 160-171
    • Rodger J, Sherrard RM (2015) Optimising rTMS for neural circuit repair. Neural Regeneration Research 10 (3), 357
    • Bates, KA, Rodger, J. (2015) Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for stroke rehabilitation – potential therapy or misplaced hope? Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 2014 PMID: 24595227
    • Morellini N, Grehl S, Tang A, Rodger J, Mariani J, Lohof AM, Sherrard RM (2015) What does low intensity rTMS do to the cerebellum? Cerebellum 14 (1), 23-26
    • Grehl S, Viola H, Fuller-Carter PI, Carter KW, Dunlop SA, Hool L, Sherrard RM, Rodger J. (2015) Cellular and molecular changes to cortical neurons following low intensity repetitive magnetic stimulation at different frequencies. Brain Stimulation, 8: 114-123.
    • Yates NJ, Martin-Iverson M, Rodger J. (2014) The Role of Ephrin-A2 and Ephrin-A5 in Sensorimotor Control and Gating. Behavioural Brain Research, 275:225-33.
    • Wijeratne D, Rodger J, Wallace H, Maghami S, Sykes M, Wood F, Fear MW. (2014) Ephrin-A2 and Ephrin-A5 are important for the functional development of cutaneous innervation in a mouse model Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 135 (2), 632-635
    • Kemp M, Miura Y, Payne M, Jobe A, Kallapur S, Saito M, Stock S, Spiller O, Ireland D, Yaegashi N, Clarke M, Hahne D, Rodger J, Keelan J, Newnham J. (2014) Maternal intravenous administration of azithromycin results in significant fetal uptake in a sheep model of second trimester pregnancy. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 58 (11), 6581-6591
    • 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.
    • Mulders WHAM, Rodger J, Yates CG and Robertson D (2014) Modulation of gene expression in guinea pig paraflocculus after induction of hearing loss [v2] F1000Research , 3:63 (doi: ).
    • Mulders* WHAM, Rodger J, Albertsen M, Yates CG, Robertson D. (2014). Effects of cochlear trauma on BDNF expression in guinea pig cochlear nucleus and inferior colliculus. Otolaryngology (auditory neuroplasticity special issue) S3:006. doi: 10.4172/2161-119X.S3-006
    • Hinder MR, Goss EL, Fujiyama H, Canty A, Garry MI, Rodger J, Summers JJ. (2014) Inter- and intra-individual variability following intermittent theta burst stimulation: implications for rehabilitation and recovery. Brain Stimulation, 7:365-371.
    • Drummond ES*, Rodger J*, Penrose M, Robertson D, Hu Y, Harvey AR (2014) Effects of intravitreal injection of BA-210, or CNTF combined with an analogue of cAMP, on the dendritic morphology of regenerating adult rat retinal ganglion cells. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 32 (3), 391-402. * indicates co-first authors.
    • Yates N, Robertson D, Martin-Iverson M, Rodger J (2014) Auditory Brainstem Responses of ephrin-A2-/-, ephrin-A5-/-, and ephrin-A2A5-/- mice. Audiology and Neuro-otology, 19(2):115-26.
    • Fletcher LN, Coimbra JP, Rodger J, Potter IC, Gill HS, Dunlop SA, Collin SP. (2014) Classification of retinal ganglion cells in the southern hemisphere lamprey Geotria australis (Cyclostomata). J. Comp. Neurol. 522(4):750-7.1
    • Bertram AE, Dugand RJ, Guildea C, Lostrom S, Lyakurwa G, Windsor A, Penrose-Menz M, Stewart T, O’Shea JE, Rodger J (2013) Renal corpuscle and tubule morphology in ephrin-A2-/-, ephrin-A5-/- and ephrin-A2A5-/- mice [v1; ref status: awaiting peer review,] F1000Research (Negative results) 2013, 2:212 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-212.v1)
    • Sykes M, Makowiecki K, Rodger J. (2013) Long term delivery of pulsed magnetic fields does not improve learning or alter dendritic spine density in the mouse hippocampus [v1; ref status: accepted] F1000Research (Negative results) 2013, 2:180 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.2-180.v1)
    • Wilks, TA., Harvey, AR., Rodger, J. (2013) Seeing with two eyes: integration of binocular retinal projections in the brain. In Brain Mapping (Invited book chapter), In Tech publishers