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Contact Details

+64 3 479 4960
Department of Anatomy
BPhEd MSc PhD(Otago)
Research summary
Brain changes associated with Parkinson's disease and chronic pain


  • ANAT335 Neurobiology
  • NEUR452 Neurodegenerative disorders


  • HUBS191 (musculoskeletal)
  • ANAT241 (musculoskeletal)
  • ELM2 (musculoskeletal)
  • Director Māori, Ageing Well National Science Challenge
  • Māori Advisory Board for Brain Research New Zealand – Roro Rangahau Aotearoa Centre of Research Excellence
  • Secretary of the International Basal Ganglia Society Council


Professor Parr-Brownlie has internationally recognised expertise in understanding how activity in the motor thalamus, motor cortex and basal ganglia control normal movements and is altered in Parkinson's disease. Her team use a combination of optogenetic stimulation, electrophysiological recordings, electron and confocal microscopy to investigate brain function and structure. They have applied optogenetic stimulation to determine if there are better places and ways to stimulate the brain to improve movements in models of Parkinson's disease.

She has been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences in the United States, such as Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia) and Gordon Research Conferences. Professor Parr-Brownlie has extended her research programme to (1) examine anatomical and physiological changes in the brain associated with chronic pain and (2) investigate Māori community perspectives of neurosurgical approaches to treat neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury.

Current staff in the laboratory are Dr Elodie Kip (ARF), Conor Underwood (PRF) and Mariana Te Pou (ARF). Current postgraduate students are Alexander Woolrych (PhD) and Lily Bentall (Hons).

Parr-Brownlie lab team photo

Additional details

Dr Parr-Brownlie is Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa.

Current funding includes Health Research Council of New Zealand, Brain Research New Zealand, and Marsden Fund. Other previous funding includes Neurological Foundation of New Zealand.

Lab staff alumni are:

  • Dr Clementine Bosch-Bouju, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Lisa Smith, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Rachel Sizemore, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Sonja Seeger-Armbruster, postdoctoral fellow
  • Julia Prier, ARF
  • Roseanna Smither, ARF
  • Stella Cameron, ARF
  • Niamh Cameron, ARF

Lab postgraduate alumni are:

  • Dr Sophie Barnett (PhD)
  • Dr Ashik Banstola (PhD)
  • Dr Stella Cameron (PhD)
  • Nikki Guy (MMedSc)
  • James Miller (MSc and Hons)
  • Shane Little (MSc and PGDipSc)
  • Abby Johnson (Hons)
  • Niamh Cameron (PGDipSc)


Kukutai, T., Parr-Brownlie, L., & Pitama, S. (2023). A bridge between: Te Ao Māori and Te Ara Paerangi. New Zealand Science Review, 78(1-2). doi: 10.26686/ Journal - Research Article

Kip, E., & Parr-Brownlie, L. (2023). Healthy lifestyles and wellbeing reduce neuroinflammation and prevent neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders [Review]. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 17, 1092537. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2023.1092537 Journal - Research Article

Kip, E., Bentall, L., Underwood, C. F., Hughes, S. M., & Parr-Brownlie, L. C. (2022). Patterned stimulation of the Chrimson opsin in glutamatergic motor thalamus neurons improves forelimb akinesia in parkinsonian rats. Neuroscience, 507, 64-78. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2022.10.026 Journal - Research Article

Kip, E. C., & Parr-Brownlie, L. C. (2022). Reducing neuroinflammation via therapeutic compounds and lifestyle to prevent or delay progression of Parkinson's disease. Ageing Research Reviews, 78, 101618. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2022.101618 Journal - Research Article

Underwood, C. F., & Parr-Brownlie, L. C. (2021). Primary motor cortex in Parkinson’s disease: Functional changes and opportunities for neurostimulation. Neurobiology of Disease, 147, 105159. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2020.105159 Journal - Research Other

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