Dr. Michael Beckstead's lab studies how dopamine neurons of the ventral midbrain
contribute to voluntary movement, the processing of natural rewards, and
the etiology of neurological disorders including Parkinson's disease
and drug addiction.
Psychostimulants such as methamphetamine
produce persistent synaptic changes in the brain. Unfortunately it is not
well understood how different forms of plasticity lead to increased
drug seeking and intake. We use operant self-administration of
methamphetamine in mice to model human drug use, and combine this with
electrophysiology to investigate the synaptic regulation of drug-related
A second project in the lab is investigating how
dopamine neuron physiology changes with age. We use patch clamp
electrophysiology to identify age-related adaptations in both intrinsic
ion conductances and extrinsic synaptic input.
Varela E, Bettinger L and Beckstead MJ (2014) Methamphetamine self-administration in mice decreases GIRK channel-mediated currents in midbrain dopamine neurons . International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Sharma R and Beckstead MJ (2014) Aging decreases L-type calcium currents and pacemaker firing fidelity in substantia nigra dopamine neurons. Journal
of Neuroscience. 34: 9310-9318. PMCID: PMC4087208
Branch SY and Beckstead MJ. Aging decreases L-type calcium currents and pacemaker firing fidelity in substantia nigra dopamineneurons. In resubmission.
Sharpe AL, Varela E, Bettinger L, Beckstead MJ. Methamphetamine self-administration in mice decreases GIRK channel-mediated currents in midbrain dopamine neurons. Submitted.
Branch SY, Goertz RB, Sharpe AL, Pierce J, Roy S, Ko D, Paladini CA, Beckstead MJ. Food restriction increases glutamate receptor-mediated burst firing of dopamine neurons. J Neurosci. 2013 Aug 21;33(34):13861-72.
Branch SY, Beckstead MJ. Methamphetamine produces bidirectional, concentration-dependent effects on dopamine neuron excitability and dopamine-mediated synaptic currents. J Neurophysiol. 2012 Aug 1;108(3):802-9.
Sharpe AL, Klaus JD, Beckstead MJ. Meal schedule influences food restriction-induced locomotor sensitization to methamphetamine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Feb;219(3):795-803.