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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, Ph.D. 2017

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


Opioid Mechanisms for the Treatment of Pain

Opioids such as morphine are the most effective treatment for pain. Unfortunately, opioid analgesia is limited by the development of tolerance and dependence. My lab uses laboratory rats to address these issues in three ways:

  1. Pain Assessment Research: There are many ways to assess pain in laboratory animals, but most of these approaches focus on pain-evoked tests such as the hot-plate and tail flick tests that lack clinical validity. We have focused on a new approach examining home cage wheel running to assess the impact of pain on function. Pain conditions such as migraine and inflammation depress wheel running. The goal of translating pain treatments from animals to humans depends on finding drugs that restore wheel running by producing analgesia in the absence of disruptive side effects.
  2. The analgesic effects of opioids are mediated in part by activation of the periaqueductal gray (PAG). Our research examines differences in analgesia and tolerance produced by direct administration of opioids into the PAG. This approach allows us to examine the behavioral consequences of cellular changes produced by different opioids.
  3. Chronic administration of opioids produces dependence that is revealed by withdrawal symptoms. We are examining the impact of chronic pain on the magnitude and duration of spontaneous opioid withdrawal.


Current Funding:

Morgan, M. M. National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Pain Suppressed Wheel Running in the Rat. (R03 NS095057). June, 2016 to May, 2018. $100,000 direct costs.

Recent 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 9:10-10:25Fall
Psych 372Biological Basis of BehaviorTu,Th 12:00-1:15Spring
Psych 401Historical Development of PsychologyTu,Th 2:50-4:05Spring


Recent Publications

  1. KandasamyR, Lee AT, Morgan  (2017). Depression of home cage wheel running is an objective measure of spontaneous morphine withdrawal in rats with and without persistent pain. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 156:10-15. PMID 28366799.
  2. Kandasamy, R., Lee, A. T., & Morgan, M. M. (2017). Depression of home cage wheel running: A reliable and clinically relevant method to assess migraine pain in rats. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 18(1):5. PMID 28091820.
  3. Kandasamy, R., Calsbeek, J. J., & Morgan, M. M. (2017). Analysis of inflammation-induced depression of home cage wheel running in rats reveals the difference between opioid antinociception and restoration of function. Behavioural Brain Research, 317:502-7. PMID 27746208.
  4. Campion, K., Saville, K. A., & Morgan, M. M. (2016). Relative contribution of the dorsal raphe nucleus and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray to morphine antinociception and tolerance in the rat. Eur. J. Neurosci., 44(9): 2667-72. PMID 27564986.
  5. Tryon, V. L., Mizumori, S. J. Y., & Morgan, M. M. (2016). Analysis of Morphine-Induced Changes in the Activity of Periaqueductal Gray Neurons in the Intact Rat. Neuroscience, 335:1-8. PMID 2754314.
  6. Kandasamy,R, Calsbeek, J.J., & Morgan, M. M. (2016). Home cage wheel running is an objective and clinically relevant method to assess inflammatory pain in male and female rats. J Neurosci Methods, 263: 115-22. PMID:26891874
  7. Bobeck, E. N., Ingram, S. L., Hermes, S. M., Aicher, S. A., & Morgan, M. M. (2016) Ligand-biased activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 leads to differences in opioid induced antinociception and tolerance. Behavioural Brain Research, 298(Pt B):17-24. PMID 26497105.