Carnegie Mellon University

Timothy Verstynen

Dr. Timothy Verstynen

Associate Professor, Psychology, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and Biomedical Engineering

  • 335G Baker Hall
  • 412-533-2961
335G Baker Hall
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


  • B.A., University of New Mexico, 2001

  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 2006

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, San Francisco 2006-2009

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pittsburgh, 2009-2012


Timothy Verstynen is an Associate Professor in Psychology and the Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute with a courtesy appointment in Biomedical Engineering at CMU and the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also Co-Director of the CMU-Pitt Brain Imaging Data Generation & Education (BRIDGE) Center. Professor Verstynen received his Bachelors in Psychology from the University of New Mexico and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied the neural mechanisms of complex hand movements. As a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, he explored the computational mechanisms of fast adaptive priors in visually-guided reaching, followed by a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh, developing novel diffusion imaging approaches for mapping white matter pathways.


Humans and other mammals flexibly select actions in noisy contexts, quickly using feedback to modify decision policies to better exploit future opportunities. The primary aim of my work is to understand how the architecture of cortico-basal ganglia-thalamic loops supports this capacity for adaptive decision making. We do this by integrating psychophysics and neuroimaging approaches with computational modeling and machine learning, in order to build tractable theories of exploratory behavior that maps across levels of analyses. 

Research Interests: adaptive decision-making, cortico-basal ganglia pathways, white matter networks


Awards and Recognition

  • NSF CAREER Award 2014

  • WEF Young Scientist 2017