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.)

  • Gokce O, Stanley GM, Treutlein B, Neff NF, Camp JG, Malenka RC, Rothwell PE, Fuccillo MV, Südhof TC, Quake SR. Cellular taxonomy of the mouse striatum as revealed by single-cell RNA-Seq. Cell Rep. 2016;16(4):1126-1137
  • Rothwell PE. Autism spectrum disorders and drug addiction: Common pathways, common molecules, distinct disorders? Front Neurosci. 2016 Feb 5;10:20.
  • Fuccillo MV, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC. From synapses to behavior: what rodent models can tell us about neuropsychiatric disease. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;79(1):4-6.
  • Rothwell PE, Hayton SJ, Sun GL, Fuccillo MV, Lim BK & Malenka RC. Input- and output-specific regulation of serial order performance by corticostriatal circuits. Neuron. 2015;88(2):345-56.
  • Fuccillo MV, Földy C, Gökce Ö, Rothwell PE, Sun GL, Malenka RC, Südhof TC. Single-cell mRNA profiling reveals cell-type specific expression of neurexin isoforms. Neuron. 2015;87:326-40
  • Rothwell PE, Fuccillo MV, Maxeiner S, Hayton SJ, Gokce O, Lim BK, Fowler SC, Malenka RC, Südhof TC. Autism-associated neuroligin-3 mutations commonly impair striatal circuits to boost repetitive behaviors. Cell. 2014;158(1):198-212.
  • Rothwell PE, Lammel S. Illuminating the opponent process: cocaine effects on habenulomesencephalic circuitry. J Neurosci. 2013;33(35):13935-7
  • Lim BK, Huang KW, Grueter BA, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC. Anhedonia requires MC4R-mediated synaptic adaptations in nucleus accumbens. Nature. 2012;487(7406):183-9.
  • Grueter BA, Rothwell PE, Malenka RC. Integrating synaptic plasticity and striatal circuit function in addiction. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2012;22(3):545-51.
  • Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ, Gewirtz JC. Protracted manifestations of acute dependence after a single morphine exposure. Psychopharmacology 2012;219:991-998
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S, Thomas MJ. Environmental novelty causes stress-like adaptations at nucleus accumbens synapses: Implications for studying addiction-related plasticity. Neuropharmacology 2011;61:1152-1159
  • Radke AK, Rothwell PE, Gewirtz JC. An anatomical basis for opponent process mechanisms of opiate withdrawal. J Neurosci. 2011;31(20):7533-9.
  • Rothwell PE, Kourrich S, Thomas MJ. Synaptic adaptations in the nucleus accumbens caused by experiences linked to relapse. Biol Psychiatry. 2011;69(11):1124-6.

Current Graduate Students:

Carlee Toddes (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)