Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience


Research Interests:

Brain disorders and mental illness represent a tremendous social and economic burden, with few effective treatments. The goal of our research is to identify the causes of brain conditions, and develop interventions to restore healthy function using synaptic plasticity and neuromodulation. We study the striatum, and important brain region for both simple and complex movements and cognitive functions. The striatum contains a variety of cell types, which receive synaptic input from many different sources and relay information through the basal ganglia. We examine the function of neural circuits formed by striatal synapses that connect specific sources and targets. Our multidisciplinary approach includes quantitative analysis of gene expression; genetic and molecular manipulations of neural circuits; measurement of synaptic function and plasticity using electrophysiology; and optogenetic stimulation of circuits in brain slices and behaving animals. Our current research focuses on autism spectrum disorders and drug addiction - two brain conditions that affect overlapping elements of striatal circuitry."

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

Rothwell PE (2016). Autism spectrum disorders and drug addiction: Common pathways, common molecules, distinct disorders? Frontiers in Neuroscience, doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00020

Fuccillo MV, Rothwell PE & Malenka RC (2016). From synapses to behavior: what rodent models can tell us about neuropsychiatric disease. Biological Psychiatry 79, 4-6

Rothwell PE, Hayton SJ, Sun GL, Fuccillo MV, Lim BK & Malenka RC (2015). Input- and output-specific regulation of serial order performance by corticostriatal circuits. Neuron 88, 345-356

Fuccillo MV, Földy C, Gökce Ö, Rothwell PE, Sun GL, Malenka RC, Südhof TC (2015). Single-cell mRNA profiling reveals cell-type specific expression of neurexin isoforms. Neuron 87, 326-340

Rothwell PE, Fuccillo MV, Maxeiner S, Hayton SJ, Gokce O, Lim BK, Fowler SC, Malenka RC, Südhof TC (2014). Autism-associated neuroligin-3 mutations commonly impair striatal circuits to boost repetitive behaviors. Cell 158, 198-212

Rothwell PE & Lammel S (2013). Illuminating the opponent process: cocaine effects on habenulomesencephalic circuitry. Journal of Neuroscience 33, 13935-13937

Lim BK, Huang KW, Grueter BA, Rothwell PE & Malenka RC (2012). Anhedonia requires MC4R-mediated synaptic adaptations in nucleus accumbens. Nature 487, 183-189

Grueter BA, Rothwell PE & Malenka RC (2012). Integrating synaptic plasticity and striatal circuit function in addiction. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 22, 545-551

Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ & Gewirtz JC (2012). Protracted manifestations of acute dependence after a single morphine exposure. Psychopharmacology 219, 991-998

Rothwell PE, Kourrich S & Thomas MJ (2011). Environmental novelty causes stress-like adaptations at nucleus accumbens synapses: Implications for studying addiction-related plasticity. Neuropharmacology 61, 1152-1159

Radke AK, Rothwell PE & Gewirtz JC (2011). An anatomical basis for opponent process mechanisms of opiate withdrawal. Journal of Neuroscience 31, 7533-7539

Rothwell PE, Kourrich S & Thomas MJ (2011). Synaptic adaptations in the nucleus accumbens caused by experiences linked to relapse. Biological Psychiatry 69, 1124-1126

Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC & Thomas MJ (2010). Episodic withdrawal promotes psychomotor sensitization to morphine. Neuropsychopharmacology 35, 2579-2589

Rothwell PE (2010). Parsing spontaneous and evoked neurotransmission on both sides of the synapse. Journal of Neuroscience 30, 6480-6481

Overland AC, Kitto KF, Chabot-Dore A-J, Rothwell PE, Fairbanks CA, Stone LS & Wilcox GL (2009). Protein kinase C mediates the synergistic interaction between agonists acting at alpha-2-adrenergic and delta-opioid receptors in spinal cord. Journal of Neuroscience 29, 13264-13273

Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ & Gewirtz JC (2009). Distinct profiles of anxiety and dysphoria during spontaneous withdrawal from acute morphine exposure. Neuropsychopharmacology 34, 2285-2295

Harris AC, Rothwell PE & Gewirtz JC (2008). Effects of the NMDA receptor antagonist memantine on the expression and development of acute opiate dependence as assessed by withdrawal-potentiated startle and hyperalgesia. Psychopharmacology 196, 649-660

Kourrich S, Rothwell PE, Klug JR & Thomas MJ (2007). Cocaine experience controls bidirectional synaptic plasticity in the nucleus accumbens. Journal of Neuroscience 27, 7921-7928