Norman Farb

Norman Farb
University of Toronto | U of T · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

82
Publications
60,580
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
4,766
Citations
Introduction
Norman Farb is an assistant professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. Norman does research in Biological Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Cognitive Science. His research focuses on the objective assessment of mental health and resilience, and the use of accessible self-improvement technologies for personal growth.
Additional affiliations
January 2010 - August 2013
Baycrest
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (82)
Article
Full-text available
Interoception is a collection of different representations of signals originating within the body. The way of perceiving these signals seems to be related to both emotion regulation and dysregulation, and its dysfunction is implicated across a variety of affective disorders. There is a growing body of research investigating the relationship between...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a highly stressful period where post-secondary education moved to online formats. Coping skills like decentering and reappraisal appear to promote stress resilience, but limited research exists on cultivating these skills in online learning contexts.Methods: In a three-arm randomized trial design, we evalu...
Article
Full-text available
Background Neural reactivity to dysphoric mood induction indexes the tendency for distress to promote cognitive reactivity and sensory avoidance. Linking these responses to illness prognosis following recovery from Major Depressive Disorder informs our understanding of depression vulnerability and provides engagement targets for prophylactic interv...
Article
Full-text available
Psychological theories cast mindfulness as a form of awareness in which accepting the presence of stressful thoughts and feelings facilitates engaged exploration and identification of adaptive responses. Critics of mindfulness’ popularization suggest that lay people misconstrue acceptance as a passive endorsement of experience, undermining engaged...
Article
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by negative self-referential processing, which triggers excessive emotional reactivity. In healthy individuals, positive self-views typically predominate and are supported by regions of the default mode network (DMN) that represent self-related information and regions of the frontoparietal control netw...
Article
There is a limited research on the effects of self-care, specifically the importance of taking time to reflect on one’s self-care habits. Healthy undergraduate students (N = 95) were assigned to either a self-care intervention or passive control condition. The intervention group (N = 52) was prompted daily via email with questions about self-care h...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Older adulthood presents unique challenges to mental health. We explored how a mindfulness training intervention adapted for older adults addressed these challenges, contributing to a qualitative profile of mindfulness pedagogy for older adults. Methods Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was adapted for a geriatric community samp...
Article
Full-text available
The Mindfulness to Meaning Theory provides a detailed process model of the mechanisms by which mindfulness may promote well‐being. Central to the Mindfulness to Meaning Theory is the mindful reappraisal hypothesis (MRH), which suggests mindfulness training promotes well‐being by facilitating positive reappraisal. Emerging evidence from interconnect...
Article
Science requires replicable tools to measure its intended constructs. Attention research has developed tools that have been used in mind-wandering research, but mind-wandering measures often rely on response-inhibition, which introduces speed-accuracy trade-offs that may conflate errors for mind-wandering. We sought to replicate three studies that...
Article
Full-text available
Meditation practices are often used to cultivate interoception or internally-oriented attention to bodily sensations, which may improve health via cognitive and emotional regulation of bodily signals. However, it remains unclear how meditation impacts internal attention (IA) states due to lack of measurement tools that can objectively assess mental...
Article
Full-text available
Psychedelics have a checkered past, alternately venerated as sacred medicines and vilified as narcotics with no medicinal or research value. After decades of international prohibition, a growing dissatisfaction with conventional mental health care and the pioneering work of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Science (MAPS) and others...
Article
How can we measure the absence of awareness? Attention research has developed tools for measuring self-caught meta-awareness restoration and behavioral mind-wandering, but we lack a way to dynamically track the loss of meta-awareness. The present pre-registered study sought to bring together three extant paradigms into one tool designed to dynamica...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psychedelics have a checkered past, alternately venerated as sacred medicines and vilified as narcotics with no medicinal or research value. After decades of international prohibition, a growing dissatisfaction with conventional mental health care and the pioneering work of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Science (MAPS) and others...
Article
Objective Children treated for brain tumors often experience social and emotional difficulties, including challenges with emotion regulation; our goal was to investigate the attention-related component processes of emotion regulation, using a novel eye-tracking measure, and to evaluate its relations with emotional functioning and white matter (WM)...
Preprint
Full-text available
Classic perspectives on mindfulness emphasize engagement with life’s challenges. In contrast, contemporary mainstream approaches to mindfulness in psychology chiefly focus on stress reduction. We contrast classic and contemporary approaches, outlining conceptual and methodological shortcomings of mindfulness research. Existing mindfulness measures...
Preprint
Full-text available
How can we measure the absence of awareness? Attention research has developed tools for measuring self-caught meta-awareness restoration and behavioural mind-wandering, but we lack a way to dynamically track the loss of meta-awareness. The present pre-registered study sought to bring together three extant paradigms into one tool designed to dynamic...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Cancer patients transitioning to survivorship after completing cancer treatments need psychosocial interventions to manage stressors such as anxiety, depression, and fear of cancer recurrence. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are effective for treating these symptoms; however, cancer survivors are often unable to participate in fac...
Article
Full-text available
Background Cancer patients transitioning to survivorship after completing cancer treatments need psychosocial interventions to manage stressors such as anxiety, depression, and fear of cancer recurrence. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are effective for treating these symptoms; however, cancer survivors are often unable to participate in fac...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by negative self-beliefs (NSBs) that are thought to maintain symptom severity-at least in part-by impairing emotion regulation. Few studies to date have investigated the neural basis of emotion regulation during NSBs in SAD. Moreover, different regulation strategies have not been directly...
Article
Full-text available
Read the full-text here: https://rdcu.be/bgUo4 Meditation has become a cultural phenomenon, and modern scientific research on the topic has exploded. Thousands of scientific articles report various benefits of meditation including clinical, physiological and well-being outcomes. Despite these benefits, drop-out rates in mindfulness-based interven...
Article
Full-text available
Facial emotion recognition (FER) deficits are evident and pervasive across neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and acquired brain disorders in children, including children treated for brain tumours. Such deficits are thought to perpetuate challenges with social relationships and decrease quality of life. The present study combined eye-tracking, neuroi...
Article
Background Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder with significant morbidity whose pathophysiology is not fully understood. Neuroimaging studies have characterized OCD in terms of elevated striatal and prefrontal reactivity to emotion provocation. This neural model may be informed by investigation of functional connectivity in O...
Article
Full-text available
Rationale Microdosing psychedelics—the regular consumption of small amounts of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin—is a growing trend in popular culture. Recent studies on full-dose psychedelic psychotherapy reveal promising benefits for mental well-being, especially for depression and end-of-life anxiety. While full-dose therapies inc...
Article
Full-text available
Many people are starting to establish contemplative practices and Mindfulness-Based Interventions have become quite popular. While Mindfulness-Based Interventions positively impact well-being, drop-out and lack of practice-maintenance plagues these interventions. Such adherence issues may reveal a lack of fit between participant partiality for atte...
Article
Background: To investigate whether usage of treatment-acquired regulatory skills is associated with prevention of depressive relapse/recurrence. Method: Remitted depressed outpatients entered a 24-month clinical follow up after either 8 weekly group sessions of cognitive therapy (CT; N = 84) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT; N = 82)....
Preprint
Evidence suggests meditation may improve health and well-being. However, understanding how meditation practices impact therapeutic outcomes is poorly characterized, in part because existing measures cannot track internal attentional states during meditation. To address this, we applied machine learning to track fMRI brain activity patterns associat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Evidence suggests meditation may improve health and well-being. However, understanding how meditation practices impact therapeutic outcomes is poorly characterized, in part because existing measures cannot track internal attentional states during meditation. To address this, we applied machine learning to track fMRI brain activity patterns associat...
Preprint
Full-text available
Microdosing psychedelics - the regular consumption of small amounts of psychedelic substances such as LSD or psilocybin - is a growing trend in popular culture. Recent studies on full-dose psychedelic psychotherapy reveal promising benefits for mental well-being, especially for depression and end-of-life anxiety. While full-dose therapies include p...
Poster
Full-text available
Meta-awareness (MA) is the process of attending to and appraising the contents of consciousness. MA is critical for certain higher-order attentional resources, but a research gap exists in how to practically detect MA in time-sensitive contexts. Validation of continuous MA measurements would allow us to better understand its temporal dynamics. We w...
Poster
Full-text available
Studies have demonstrated various benefits of meditation, including sleep and health improvements and positive effects on mood. However, many people stop meditating, and up to 30% drop out of mindfulness based interventions like MBSR. What makes people move away from meditation? This research attempts to find some answers in determining the benefit...
Poster
Full-text available
Microdosing psychedelics has become a recent media phenomenon. Microdosing is the practice of taking sub-threshold doses of a substance, in this case, a psychedelic substance such as LSD or psilocybin. No scientific research has been published on the effects of microdosing psychedelics thus we ran a cross-sectional observational study on the microd...
Article
Full-text available
Background Mindfulness training (MT) includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of nonjudgment and curiosity. Following the success of 8-week, manualized group interventions, MT has been implemented in a variety of modalities, including smartphone apps that seek to re...
Preprint
Full-text available
BACKGROUND Mindfulness training (MT) includes a variety of contemplative practices aimed at promoting intentional awareness of experience, coupled with attitudes of nonjudgment and curiosity. Following the success of 8-week, manualized group interventions, MT has been implemented in a variety of modalities, including smartphone apps that seek to re...
Article
Objective: Both Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT) enhance self-management of prodromal symptoms associated with depressive relapse, albeit through divergent therapeutic procedures. We evaluated rates of relapse in remitted depressed patients receiving MBCT and CT. Decentering and dysfunctional attitudes were ass...
Preprint
Many new people are engaging contemplative practices and Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have become quite popular. While MBIs positively impact well-being, drop-out and lack of practice-maintenance plagues these interventions, which use the breath to anchor attention. No study had yet compared preferences for practices using anchors from di...
Preprint
Contemporary scholarship on mindfulness casts it as a form of purely nonevaluative engagement with experience. Yet, traditionally mindfulness was not intended to operate in a vacuum of dispassionate observation, but was seen as facilitative of eudaimonic mental states. In spite of this historical context, modern psychological research has neglected...
Poster
Full-text available
Training attention through meditation has been shown to have robust positive effects, including improving mood and improving skilful action. There are several types of meditation, though, and we are left wondering which type of meditation would be best for each of us. This research investigated whether different types of meditation are better suite...
Poster
Full-text available
(NOTE: data is preliminary) Over the past decade we have all witnessed an explosion of mindfulness-related stuff. Mindfulness meditation spread out from clinical interventions where the patient had to focus on their breath as an anchor of their attention. This attention to an anchor trains a sort of stability and appreciation of the wandering minds...
Article
Full-text available
Well-being is deeply rooted in the body, a continuous flow of feelings denoting comfort or distress. Interoception, the representation of the body's internal state, is a growing target of scientific research, buoyed by a growing respect for contemplative traditions relating interoceptive awareness to the cultivation of well-being. An emerging inter...
Article
Full-text available
Background Mindfulness training (MT) programs represent an approach to attention training with well-validated mental health benefits. However, research supporting MT efficacy is based predominantly on weekly-meeting, facilitator-led, group-intervention formats. It is unknown whether participants might benefit from neurofeedback-assisted, technology...
Presentation
Full-text available
Managing our own attention in our distracting world is a constant challenge, and we tend to be less happy and less skillful when our mind is wandering. Training attention through meditation has been shown to have robust positive effects, including improving mood and improving skillful action. There are several types of meditation, though, and we ar...
Poster
Full-text available
Managing our own attention in our distracting world is a constant challenge, and we tend to be less happy and less skilful when our mind is wandering. Training attention through meditation has been shown to have robust positive effects, including improving mood and improving skilful action. There are several types of meditation, though, and we are...
Article
This study investigated the effect of an intravenous serotonin reuptake inhibitor on the neural substrates of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as intravenous agents may be more effective in treating OCD than conventional oral pharmacotherapy. Eight OCD subjects and eight control subjects received alternate infusions of citalopram and placebo du...
Article
Full-text available
People vary in how they remember the past: some recall richly detailed episodes; others more readily access the semantic features of events. The neural correlates of such trait-like differences in episodic and semantic remembering are unknown. We found that self-reported individual differences in how one recalls the past were related to predictable...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary scholarship on mindfulness casts it as a form of purely nonevaluative engagement with experience. Yet, traditionally mindfulness was not intended to operate in a vacuum of dispassionate observation, but was seen as facilitative of eudaimonic mental states. In spite of this historical context, modern psychological research has neglected...
Article
Full-text available
Interoception can be broadly defined as the sense of signals originating within the body. As such, interoception is critical for our sense of embodiment, motivation and well-being. And yet, despite its importance, interoception remains poorly understood within modern science. This paper reviews interdisciplinary perspectives on interoception, with...
Article
The substantial health burden associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) is a product of both its high prevalence and the significant risk of relapse, recurrence, and chronicity. Establishing recurrence vulnerability factors (VFs) could improve the long-term management of MDD by identifying the need for further intervention in seemingly recove...
Article
Full-text available
From its venerable Buddhist roots, mindfulness training (MT) has spread rapidly across the globe in the past few decades due to its strong salutary claim, i.e., the notion that meditation practice is an efficacious means for self-improvement. However, concerns have arisen that the appropriation of MT techniques from classical Buddhist tradition int...
Chapter
Full-text available
Secular meditation training (MT) practices such as mindfulness training have sparked recent public and scientific interest, yet it is unknown whether such practices can contribute to lasting cultural change. This chapter argues that widespread cultural integration of meditation depends upon whether the scientific community can provide clear explana...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are particularly effective treatment approaches in terms of alleviating depressive symptoms and preventing relapse once remission has been achieved. Although engaging in mindfulness practice is an essential element of both treatments; it is unclear whether info...
Article
Full-text available
Importance: Noninvasive measures of activity within intrinsic brain networks may be clinically relevant, providing a marker of neurodegenerative disease and predicting clinical behaviors. Objective: To correlate baseline resting-state measures within the salience network and changes in behavior among patients with frontotemporal dementia. Desig...
Article
Full-text available
Putatively, mindfulness meditation involves the generation of a state of “nonappraisal,” yet, little is known about how mindfulness may influence appraisal processes. We investigated whether the state and practice of mindfulness could enhance cognitive reappraisal. Participants (N = 44; M age = 24.44, SD = 4.00, range 19–38, 82.2 % female) were ran...
Article
Full-text available
Norman AS FarbRotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto, Ontario, CanadaAbstract: Neuroimaging has grown in prominence with the popularization of relatively inexpensive and noninvasive techniques. The popular conception of neuroimaging is that it can finely describe a person's internal states and proclivities, providing veridical evidence in rea...
Article
Introduction: Degraded social function, disinhibition, and stereotypy are defining characteristics of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), manifesting in both the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and semantic dementia (SD) subtypes. Recent neuroimaging research also associates FTD with alterations in the brain's intrinsic connectivi...
Article
Full-text available
One component of mindfulness training (MT) is the development of interoceptive attention (IA) to visceral bodily sensations, facilitated through daily practices such as breath monitoring. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined experience-dependent functional plasticity in accessing interoceptive representations by comparing...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness involves nonjudgmental attention to present-moment experience. In its therapeutic forms, mindfulness interventions promote increased tolerance of negative affect and improved well-being. However, the neural mechanisms underlying mindful mood regulation are poorly understood. Mindfulness training appears to enhance focused attention, sup...
Article
Full-text available
How exteroceptive attention (EA) alters neural representations of the external world is well characterized, yet little is known about how interoceptive attention (IA) alters neural representations of the body's internal state. We contrasted visual EA against IA toward respiration. Visual EA modulated striate and extrastriate cortices and a lateral...
Article
Full-text available
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a pervasive and debilitating illness, with a recurrent course and chronic prognosis. Although effective treatments for MDD exist, there is a pressing need to characterize relapse vulnerability in order to design effective prophylactic care. To date, heterogeneity within depression neuroimaging research has made it...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness, an ancient spiritual practice, is becoming an increasingly popular component of communication courses, training individuals to reserve judgment in their dealings with others. However, the effects of mindfulness in communication courses are not well researched. We compared students taking an introductory communication course that includ...
Article
Altered cognitive processing following mood challenge is associated with elevated relapse risk in remitted unipolar depressed patients, but little is known about the neural basis of this reactivity and its link to depressive relapse and prophylaxis. Remitted unipolar depressed participants (n = 16) and healthy control subjects (n = 16) underwent fu...