Gary W Thickbroom
October 4th, 2013 by Gary Thickbroom



Professor Thickbroom headed the Brain Plasticity Group at the Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute and Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia from 1990-2014.

He is best known for his work with non-invasive brain stimulation (particularly transcranial magnetic stimulation) to study brain plasticity in people living with a neurological disorder, and in studies of basic motor cortex physiology in control populations.

Cortical mapping software that he developed revealed clinically relevant brain plasticity in stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. This highlighted the ubiquity and importance of central reorganisation in acute and progressive pathologies. In controls, adaptive plasticity was shown after fatiguing muscle exercise and motor learning.

He has developed novel and effective brain stimulation methodologies to modulate synaptic excitability (potentiation and depression) founded on an appreciation of motor cortex physiology. This involves multi-pulse sequences that follow the temporal dynamics of excitatory synaptic transmission, while accounting for cortical inhibition and disinhibition.

Circa 1998 he established functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at the Department of Radiology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, using software for image processing and analysis he wrote for this purpose. He developed protocols for imaging cortical activity associated with motor tasks, muscle fatigue, and language (expressive and receptive), and supervised over 100 studies of motor, visual, auditory and language executive function as part of pre-surgical planning.

He has 120 peer-reviewed publications, ~3,500 citations, and a h-index of 36.

He stood down from the University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Neuroscience Research Institute in 2014. He is currently Visiting Professor in Neuroscience, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Cornell University (New York), Distinguished Advisor in Human Motor Recovery, Burke Medical Research Institute (New York) and Adjunct Professor, Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University (Western Australia).