Timothy Verstynen, PhD

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Psychology





Education & Training

PhD, University of California, Berkeley (2006)

Campus Address

340U Baker Hall

One-Line Research Description

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

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.

Representative Publications

Dunovan K, Vich C, Clapp M, Verstynen T, Rubin J. Reward-driven changes instriatal pathway competition shape evidence evaluation in decision-making. PLoSComput Biol. 2019 May 6;15(5):e1006998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006998.eCollection 2019 May. PubMed PMID: 31060045; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6534331.


Dunovan K, Verstynen T. Errors in Action Timing and Inhibition FacilitateLearning by Tuning Distinct Mechanisms in the Underlying Decision Process. JNeurosci. 2019 Mar 20;39(12):2251-2264. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1924-18.2019. Epub2019 Jan 17. PubMed PMID: 30655353; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6433756.


Powell MA, Garcia JO, Yeh FC, Vettel JM, Verstynen T. Local connectomephenotypes predict social, health, and cognitive factors. Netw Neurosci. 2018 Mar1;2(1):86-105. doi: 10.1162/NETN_a_00031. eCollection 2018 Spring. PubMed PMID:29911679; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5989992.


Yeh FC, Panesar S, Fernandes D, Meola A, Yoshino M, Fernandez-Miranda JC,Vettel JM, Verstynen T. Population-averaged atlas of the macroscale humanstructural connectome and its network topology. Neuroimage. 2018 Sep;178:57-68.doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.027. Epub 2018 May 24. PubMed PMID: 29758339.


"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.