Timothy Verstynen, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Psychology


340U Baker Hall
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PhD, University of California, Berkeley (2006)


Neural basis of action planning, decision-making and skill learning.

Research Summary

Broadly, my research program examines how the connective architecture of sensorimotor circuits (e.g., how neural circuits are wired together and the integrity of these connections) constrains cognitive function. As such I set out to capture general principles that explain: 1) how the configuration of corticostriatal circuits provide clues as to their functional dynamics and behavioral decisions; 2) how differences in the organization of sensorimotor pathways predict differences in decision-making and learning; and 3) how context (e.g., physical health, environmental factors and individual experiences) impact the physical architecture of corticostriatal circuits and how this, in turn, impacts cognition.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program



"Brain dynamics of post-task resting state are influenced by expertise: insights from baseball players." J. Muraskin, S. Dodhia, G. Lieberman, J. O. Garcia, T. Verstynen, J. M. Vettel, J. Sherwin and Paul Sajda. Hum Brain Mapp. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23321 (2016).

"Believer-Skeptic meets Actor-Critic: Rethinking the role of basal ganglia pathways during decision-making and reinforcement learning." K Dunovan, T. Verstynen.Frontiers in Neuroscience,125:162-171 (2016).

Verstynen, T.D. The organization and dynamics of corticostriatal pathways link the medial orbitofrontal cortex to future behavioral responses. J Neurophysiology 112 (10): 2457-2469, 2014. 

Verstynen, T., Phillips, J., Braun, E., Workman, B., Schunn, C., Schneider, W. Dynamic sensorimotor planning during long-term sequence learning: the role of variability, response chunking and planning errors. PLoS One 7(10):e47336, 2012. 

Jarbo, K., and Verstynen, T. Converging structural and functional connectivity of orbitofrontal, dorsolateral prefrontal, and posterior parietal cortex in the human striatum. J. Neuroscience. 35(9):3865-78, 2015. 

Verstynen, T., Badre, D., Jarbo, K., and Schneider, W. Microstructural organizational patterns in the human corticostriatal system. J Neurophys. 107(11):2984-95, 2012. 

Gianaros, P., Marsland, A., Sheu, L., Erickson, K., Verstynen, T. Inflammatory pathways link socioeconomic inequalities to white matter architecture. Cerebral Cortex 23(9):2058-71, 2013.