Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Advising Statement:

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.)

  • Lefevre EM, Gauthier EA, Bystrom LL, Scheunemann J, Rothwell PE. Differential patterns of synaptic plasticity in the nucleus accumbens caused by continuous and interrupted morphine exposure. J Neurosci. 2022 Nov 16:JN-RM-0595-22.
  • Brandner DD, Retzlaff CL, Kocharian A, Stieve BJ, Mashal MA, Mermelstein PG, Rothwell PE. Neuroligin-3 in dopaminergic circuits promotes behavioural and neurobiological adaptations to chronic morphine exposure. Addict Biol. 2023 Jan;28(1):e13247.
  • Retzlaff CL, Rothwell PE. Characterization and mu opioid receptor sensitivity of neuropeptide Y interneurons in the mouse nucleus accumbens. Neuropharmacology. 2022 Nov 1;218:109212.
  • Trieu BH, Remmers BC, Toddes C, Brandner DD, Lefevre EM, Kocharian A, Retzlaff CL, Dick RM, Mashal MA, Gauthier EA, Xie W, Zhang Y, More SS, Rothwell PE. Angiotensin-converting enzyme gates brain circuit-specific plasticity via an endogenous opioid. Science. 2022 Mar 11;375(6585):1177-1182.
  • Toddes C, Lefevre EM, Brandner DD, Zugschwert L, Rothwell PE. μ-opioid receptor (Oprm1) copy number influences nucleus accumbens microcircuitry and reciprocal social behaviors. J Neurosci. 2021 Sep 22;41(38):7965-7977.
  • Borland JM, Kim E, Swanson SP, Rothwell PE, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL. Effect of aggressive experience in female Syrian hamsters on glutamate receptor expression in the nucleus accumbens. Front Behav Neurosci. 2020 Nov 23;14:583395.
  • Lefevre EM, Pisansky MT, Toddes C, Baruffaldi F, Pravetoni M, Tian L, Kono TJY, Rothwell PE. Interruption of continuous opioid exposure exacerbates drug-evoked adaptations in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020;45(11):1781-1792.
  • Corkrum M, Covelo A, Lines J, Bellocchio L, Pisansky M, Loke K, Quintana R, Rothwell PE, Lujan R, Marsicano G, Martin ED. Thomas MJ, Kofuji P, Araque A. Dopamine-evoked synaptic regulation in the nucleus accumbens requires astrocyte activity. Neuron. 2020;105(6):1036-1047.
  • Pisansky MT, Lefevre EM, Retzlaff CL, Trieu BH, Leipold DW, Rothwell PE. Nucleus accumbens fast-spiking interneurons constrain impulsive action. Biol Psychiatry. 2019;86(11):836-847.
  • Corkrum M, Rothwell PE, Thomas MJ, Kofuji P, Araque A. Opioid-mediated astrocyte-neuron signaling in the nucleus accumbens. Cells. 2019 Jun 14;8(6). pii: E586.
  • 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):13935-13937.

Current Graduate Students:

Rachel Dick (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota) 
Nicole Quintus (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)

Former Graduate Students:

Dieter Brandner (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota) 
Adrine Kocharian (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota) 
Carlee Toddes (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota) 
Brian Trieu (Neuroscience, University of Minnesota)


Picture of Patrick Rothwell