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Michael Morgan's Research Department of Psychology

Dr. Michael Morgan

Professor of Psychology

Morgan photoDepartments:
Arts and Sciences
Phone: (360) 546-9726
Fax: (360) 546-9038
Located in Classroom (VCLS) 208G
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:15 – 1:15
Support Staff: Janet DeWitt

Graduate Students

Ram Kandasamy, Neuroscience

Kimber Saville, Psychology, Ph.D. 2014

Erin Bobeck, Psychology, Ph.D. 2013

Michelle Cyr, Psychology, Ph.D. 2011

Adie Wilson, Neuroscience, Ph.D. 2011

Diane Lane, Psychology, Ph.D. 2004



  • Ph.D. 1989 UCLA Physiological Psychology (J.C. Liebeskind mentor)
  • Post-doctoral fellow 1989 – 1993 Dept. of Neurology, UC, San Francisco (H.L. Fields mentor)

External Links


Neural Mechanisms of Morphine Tolerance

Opiates such as morphine are the most effective treatment for pain. Unfortunately, the ability of opioids to relieve pain is reduced with repeated administration. The primary goal of our research is to determine the mechanism for tolerance so long lasting and effective pain treatments can be developed. Our research has shown that tolerance occurs by a change in opioid sensitive GABAergic neurons in the ventrolateral region of the periaqueductal gray (PAG). Injection of opioids into this brain region produces analgesia and repeated injections results in tolerance. We are currently examining the role of mu-opioid receptor internalization in morphine tolerance. These studies indicate that repeated administration of morphine increases the likelihood that the mu-opioid receptor will internalize which produces tolerance by limiting membrane signaling.

Current Funding:

Morgan, M. M., Aicher, S.A. (co-P.I), & Ingram, S. L. (co-P.I). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Psychostimulants Induce Long-Term Changes in Nociception (R01 DA027625). September 2009 to July 2014. $1,625,000 direct costs.

Morgan, M. M. & Ingram, S. L. (co-P.I) National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cellular mechanisms of opioid tolerance. (RO1 DA015498-06). August 2009 to July 2011. $450,000 direct costs.

Morgan, M. M.  National Institute on Drug Abuse. Neural Mechanisms of Enhanced Cannabinoid/Opioid Antinociception. (R03 DA026591). May, 2009 to April, 2011. $100,000 direct costs.


Student evaluations of Courses I have Taught:

  • Psych 372: Biological Basis of Behavior
  • Psych 401: Historical Development of Psychology


Course IDTitleMeeting TimeLocationSemesterSyllabus
Neuro 301Foundations of NeuroscienceTu,Th 1:25-2:40Fall
Psych 504Historical of PsychologyTu,Th 9:10-10:25VUCB 107Fall
Psych 372Biological Basis of BehaviorVMMC 22Spring


Recent Publications

Macey, T. A., Bobeck, E. N., Suchland, K., Morgan, M. M., & Ingram, S. L. (2015). Change in functional selectivity of morphine with the development of antinociceptive tolerance. British Journal of Pharmacology, 172(2):549-61. PMID 24666417.

Morgan, M. M., Reid, R. A., and Saville, K. A. (2014). Functionally selective signaling for morphine and fentanyl antinociception and tolerance mediated by the rat periaqueductal gray. PLoS ONE, 9(12): e11469. PMID 25503060.

Morgan, M. M., Reid, R. A., Stormann, T. M., & Lautermilch, N. J. (2014). Opioid selective antinociception following microinjection into the periaqueductal gray of the rat. J. Pain, 15:1102-1109. PMID 25106089.

Bobeck, E. N., Chen, Q. L., Morgan, M. M., and Ingram, S. L. (2014) Contribution of adenylyl cyclase modulation of pre- and postsynaptic GABA neurotransmission to morphine antinociception and tolerance. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(9):2142-52. PMID: 24622471.

Mehalick, M. L., Ingram, S. L., Aicher. S. A., & Morgan,M. M. (2013). Chronic inflammatory pain prevents tolerance to the antinociceptive effect of morphine microinjected into the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray of the rat. Journal of Pain, 14:1601-1610. PMID 24161274.

Suckow, S. K., Deichsel, E. L., Ingram, S. L., Morgan,M. M., & Aicher. S. A. (2013). Columnar distribution of catecholaminergic neurons in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) and their relationship to efferent pathways. Synapse, 67:94-108. PMID: 23152302

Wilson-Poe, A. R., Pocius, E., Herschbach, M., & Morgan, M. M. (2013). The periaqueductal gray contributes to bidirectional enhancement of antinociception between morphine and cannabinoids. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, 103:444-449. PMID: 23063785