Afik Faerman, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychology postdoctoral scholar and an NIMH T32 fellow at the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab (PI: Nolan Williams) and the Center for Stress and Health (PI: David Spiegel). He completed his clinical training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Baylor College of Medicine and earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology from Palo Alto University. His research centers on cognitive functioning and its intersection with behavioral health, focusing on brain stimulation, sleep, psychedelics, hypnosis, and performance. His work has been acknowledged and supported by the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) and Division 19 (Military Psychology), the Sleep Research Society (SRS), the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SCEH), and more. He is president-elect of the APA Division 30 (Psychological Hypnosis), the past chair of the Student Committee at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC), and a past committee member of the SRS Trainee Education and Advisory Committee (TEAC).

Honors & Awards

  • Early Career Award, American Psychological Association, Division 30 (2023)
  • The Henry Guze Award (Best Research Paper), Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (2021)
  • Paul Baer Research Award, Baylor College of Medicine (2022)
  • Presidential Citation, Society for Military Psychology (APA Division 19) (2019)
  • Dissertation Award, Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (APA Division 40) (2019)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • President-Elect, American Psychological Association (APA), Division 30 (2023 - Present)
  • Member, Trainee Education Advisory Committee (TEAC), Sleep Research Society (SRS) (2020 - 2023)
  • Chair, Student Committee, Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) (2019 - 2022)

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation as a countermeasure for behavioral and neuropsychological risks of long-duration and deep-space missions. NPJ microgravity Faerman, A., Buchanan, D. M., Williams, N. R. 2024; 10 (1): 58

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41526-024-00401-8

    View details for PubMedID 38806522

    View details for PubMedCentralID 10235498

  • Magnesium-ibogaine therapy in veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Nature medicine Cherian, K. N., Keynan, J. N., Anker, L., Faerman, A., Brown, R. E., Shamma, A., Keynan, O., Coetzee, J. P., Batail, J., Phillips, A., Bassano, N. J., Sahlem, G. L., Inzunza, J., Millar, T., Dickinson, J., Rolle, C. E., Keller, J., Adamson, M., Kratter, I. H., Williams, N. R. 2024


    Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of disability. Sequelae can include functional impairments and psychiatric syndromes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. Special Operations Forces (SOF) veterans (SOVs) may be at an elevated risk for these complications, leading some to seek underexplored treatment alternatives such as the oneirogen ibogaine, a plant-derived compound known to interact with multiple neurotransmitter systems that has been studied primarily as a treatment for substance use disorders. Ibogaine has been associated with instances of fatal cardiac arrhythmia, but coadministration of magnesium may mitigate this concern. In the present study, we report a prospective observational study of the Magnesium-Ibogaine: the Stanford Traumatic Injury to the CNS protocol (MISTIC), provided together with complementary treatment modalities, in 30 male SOVs with predominantly mild TBI. We assessed changes in the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule from baseline to immediately (primary outcome) and 1month (secondary outcome) after treatment. Additional secondary outcomes included changes in PTSD (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5), depression (Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale) and anxiety (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale). MISTIC resulted in significant improvements in functioning both immediately (Pcorrected<0.001, Cohen's d=0.74) and 1month (Pcorrected< 0.001, d=2.20) after treatment and in PTSD (Pcorrected<0.001, d=2.54), depression (Pcorrected<0.001, d=2.80) and anxiety (Pcorrected<0.001, d=2.13) at 1month after treatment. There were no unexpected or serious adverse events. Controlled clinical trials to assess safety and efficacy are needed to validate these initial open-label findings. registration: NCT04313712 .

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41591-023-02705-w

    View details for PubMedID 38182784

  • Associations of Nightmares and Sleep Disturbance With Neurobehavioral Symptoms Postconcussion. The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation Faerman, A., Nabasny, A., Wright, B., Juengst, S. B. 2023; 39 (3): E105-E112


    This study investigates the association of nightmares beyond general sleep disturbance on neurobehavioral symptoms in adults with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).Secondary analysis of a concussion cohort study.One hundred and eleven adults older than 20 years with mTBI were recruited from a specialized concussion treatment center.Behavioral Assessment Screening Tool, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and self-report of nightmare frequency in the past 2 weeks.Among adults with mTBI, nightmares accounted for the greatest amount of variability in negative affect (β = .362, P < .001), anxiety (β = .332, P < .001), and impulsivity (β = .270, P < .001) after adjusting for age and sex. Overall sleep disturbance had the strongest association with depression (β = .493, P < .001), fatigue (β = .449, P < .001), self-reported executive dysfunction (β = .376, P < .001), and overall burden from concussive symptoms (β = .477, P < .001).Nightmares and sleep disturbance are differentially associated with variance in neurobehavioral symptoms. Nightmares were independently associated with neurobehavioral symptoms representing an excess of normal functioning (eg, anxiety, impulsivity), while general sleep disturbance was associated with neurobehavioral symptoms representing functioning below normal levels (eg, depression, fatigue, self-reported executive dysfunction). Clinical and research implications are discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000891

    View details for PubMedID 38709831

  • Neuropsychological considerations for long-duration deep spaceflight. Frontiers in physiology Faerman, A., Clark, J. B., Sutton, J. P. 2023; 14: 1146096


    The deep space environment far beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) introduces multiple and simultaneous risks for the functioning and health of the central nervous system (CNS), which may impair astronauts' performance and wellbeing. As future deep space missions to Mars, moons, or asteroids will also exceed current LEO stay durations and are estimated to require up to 3 years, we review recent evidence with contemporary and historic spaceflight case studies addressing implications for long-duration missions. To highlight the need for specific further investigations, we provide neuropsychological considerations integrating cognitive and motor functions, neuroimaging, neurological biomarkers, behavior changes, and mood and affect to construct a multifactorial profile to explain performance variability, subjective experience, and potential risks. We discuss the importance of adopting a neuropsychological approach to long-duration deep spaceflight (LDDS) missions and draw specific recommendations for future research in space neuropsychology.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fphys.2023.1146096

    View details for PubMedID 37275233

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10235498

  • Subjective sleep quality is poorly associated with actigraphy and heart rate measures in community-dwelling older men. Sleep medicine Faerman, A. n., Kaplan, K. A., Zeitzer, J. M. 2020; 73: 154–61


    There has been a proliferation in the use of commercially-available accelerometry- and heart rate-based wearable devices to monitor sleep. While the underlying technology is reasonable at detecting sleep quantity, the ability of these devices to predict subjective sleep quality is currently unknown. We tested whether the fundamental signals from such devices are useful in determining subjective sleep quality.Older, community-dwelling men (76.5 ± 5.77 years) enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS) participated in an overnight sleep study during which sleep was monitored with actigraphy (wrist-worn accelerometry) and polysomnography (PSG), including electrocardiography (N = 1141). Subjective sleep quality was determined the next morning using 5-point Likert-type scales of sleep depth and restfulness. Lasso and random forest regression models analyzed the relationship between actigraph-determined sleep variables, the shape of the activity patterns during sleep (functional principal component analysis), average heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), demographics, and self-reported depression, anxiety, habitual sleep, and daytime sleepiness measures.Actigraphy data, in combination with heart rate, HRV, demographic, and psychological variables, do not predict well subjective sleep quality (R2 = 0.025 to 0.162).Findings are consistent with previous studies that objective sleep measures are not well correlated with subjective sleep quality. Developing validated biomarkers of subjective sleep quality could improve both existing and novel treatment modalities and advance sleep medicine towards precision healthcare standards.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.sleep.2020.04.012

    View details for PubMedID 32836083

  • Branching out: Feasibility of examining the effects of greenspace on mental health after traumatic brain injury. Dialogues in health Holland, A. B., Cohen, A., Faerman, A., Nelson, T. A., Wright, B., Kumar, R. G., Ngan, E., Herrera, S., Juengst, S. B. 2023; 2: 100129


    This pilot study's aim was to determine the feasibility of examining the effects of an environmental variable (i.e., tree canopy coverage) on mental health after sustaining a brain injury.A secondary data analysis was conducted leveraging existing information on mental health after moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from the TBI Model System. Mental health was measured using PHQ-9 (depression) and GAD-7 (anxiety) scores. The data were compared with data on tree canopy coverage in the state of Texas that was obtained from the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium using GIS analysis. Tree canopy coverage as an indicator of neighborhood socioeconomic status was also examined using the Neighborhood SES Index.Tree canopy coverage had weak and non-significant correlations with anxiety and depression scores, as well as neighborhood socioeconomic status. Data analysis was limited by small sample size. However, there is a higher percentage (18.8%) of participants who reported moderate to severe depression symptoms in areas with less than 30% tree canopy coverage, compared with 6.6% of participants who endorsed moderate to severe depression symptoms and live in areas with more than 30% tree canopy coverage (there was no difference in anxiety scores).Our work confirms the feasibility of measuring the effects of tree canopy coverage on mental health after brain injury and warrants further investigation into examining tree canopy coverage and depression after TBI. Future work will include nationwide analyses to potentially detect significant relationships, as well as examine differences in geographic location.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dialog.2023.100129

    View details for PubMedID 38515481

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10953891

  • Altered Neurochemical Ratio in the Prefrontal Cortex is Associated With Pain in Fibromyalgia Syndrome Bishop, J., Faerman, A., Geoly, A., Maron-Katz, A., Sacchet, M., Spiegel, D., Williams, N. SPRINGERNATURE. 2021: 163
  • Hypnotic predictors of agency: Responsiveness to specific suggestions in hypnosis is associated with involuntariness in fibromyalgia. Consciousness and cognition Faerman, A., Stimpson, K. H., Bishop, J. H., Neri, E., Phillips, A., Gulser, M., Amin, H., Nejad, R., Fotros, A., Williams, N. R., Spiegel, D. 2021; 96: 103221


    Hypnosis is associated with alterations in the sense of agency which can play a role in its utilization as a nonpharmacological option for pain management. The goal of the current study was to examine the relationships between responsiveness to suggestions in hypnosis and alterations of the sense of agency among patients with fibromyalgia. Ninety-eight participants with fibromyalgia underwent two hypnotizability assessments followed by the Sense of Agency Rating Scale. Clinical pain measures were also collected. Involuntariness was predicted by responsiveness to control, ideomotor, and dissociation suggestions. Effortlessness was predicted by responsiveness to control and ideomotor suggestions, and age. Hypnotizability was associated with main clinical pain outcomes, but agency alterations were not. Results suggest a shared mechanism between responsiveness to specific suggestions and the sense of agency in hypnosis. We discuss theoretical and clinical implications for pain management and the need for further research.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2021.103221

    View details for PubMedID 34695719

  • Shared cognitive mechanisms of hypnotizability with executive functioning and information salience. Scientific reports Faerman, A., Spiegel, D. 2021; 11 (1): 5704


    In recent years, evidence linked hypnotizability to the executive control and information salience networks, brain structures that play a role in cognitive conflict resolution and perseveration (insisting on applying a previously learned logical rule on a new set). Despite the growing body of neuroimaging evidence, the cognitive phenotype of hypnotizability is not well understood. We hypothesized that higher hypnotizability would correspond to lower perseveration and set-shifting. Seventy-two healthy adults were tested for hypnotizability and executive functions (perseveration and set-shifting). Multiple regression analyses were performed to test the relationship between hypnotizability and perseveration and set-shifting. Higher hypnotizability was associated with lower perseveration after accounting for age and education. Hypnotizability significantly predicted perseveration but not set-shifting. Our results indicate an inverse relationship between trait hypnotizability and perseveration, an executive function that utilizes regions of both the executive control and the salience systems. This suggests that hypnotizability may share a common cognitive mechanism with error evaluation and implementation of logical rules.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-021-84954-8

    View details for PubMedID 33707531

  • Posthypnotic Amnesia in Hypnotizability Assessment: Validation of a New Scoring System for the Hypnotic Induction Profile. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis Faerman, A., Spiegel, D. 2021; 69 (1): 83–93


    The Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP) is a standardized assessment of hypnotizability featuring a validated 0-10 scoring system, that does not factor in posthypnotic amnesia. Using confirmatory factor analyses (CFA), we compared the 10-point scoring system with a new 12-point system that includes the posthypnotic amnesia item in independent samples of individuals with fibromyalgia (n =98) and healthy adults (n =97). Additionally, we explored associations of the two scoring systems with measures of hypnotic phenomena. CFA results indicate that the 12-point scoring system is a good fit for the 1-factor model of hypnotizability. Posthypnotic amnesia loaded highly on the model in the fibromyalgia sample, and moderately on the model in healthy adults. Furthermore, the 12-point scoring system correlated significantly with measures of hypnotic phenomena. We conclude that the 12-point scoring system is psychometrically equivalent yet conceptually more comprehensive than the 10-point scoring system.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/00207144.2021.1834860

    View details for PubMedID 33513058

  • Sleep/Wake Detection by Behavioral Response to Haptic Stimuli. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Miller, K. E., Babler, L., Maillart, T., Faerman, A., Woodward, S. H. 2019; 15 (11): 1675–81


    STUDY OBJECTIVES: Actigraphy, the tool of choice for assessment of sleep phase disorders, is insensitive to movement-free waking. This study aimed to determine whether the detection of waking could be performed by recording instrumental responses to haptic stimuli delivered by a low-cost device.METHODS: Twenty adults underwent 2 nights of laboratory polysomnography (PSG) while wearing a fingerless glove under which a stimulating actigraph ("Wakemeter") was apposed to the palm. The Wakemeter, controlled by a tablet computer, delivered gentle, haptic stimuli every 10 minutes during the sleep period. If a stimulus was detected, the participant squeezed the Wakemeter. Stimulus times, response times and movements were streamed to the tablet. Concurrent PSG data were scored blind to stimuli and responses. Self-reported sleep quality ratings were collected each morning.RESULTS: The Wakemeter was acceptable to 19 of 20 participants, and effects on self-reported and objective sleep were small. The probability of a response to the stimulus during a wake epoch was high regardless of movement. In contrast, actigraphy magnitude distributions were indistinguishable across epochs scored wake without movement versus sleep, confirming a known limitation of actigraphy. A simple method for calculating sleep efficiency from responses to the stimuli yielded estimates that were highly correlated with PSG-derived estimates (rho = .69, P < .001).CONCLUSIONS: Behavioral responses to haptic stimuli detected epochs of movement-free wake during the sleep period and may augment actigraphy in the low-burden estimation of sleep efficiency. Acceptability of the method over longer recording periods remains to be established.

    View details for DOI 10.5664/jcsm.8038

    View details for PubMedID 31739859

  • Establishing a framework for neuropathological correlates and glymphatic system functioning in Parkinson's disease. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews Sundaram, S., Hughes, R. L., Peterson, E., Muller-Oehring, E. M., Bronte-Stewart, H. M., Poston, K. L., Faerman, A., Bhowmick, C., Schulte, T. 2019


    Recent evidence has advanced our understanding of the function of sleep to include removal of neurotoxic protein aggregates via the glymphatic system. However, most research on the glymphatic system utilizes animal models, and the function of waste clearance processes in humans remains unclear. Understanding glymphatic function offers new insight into the development of neurodegenerative diseases that result from toxic protein inclusions, particularly those characterized by neuropathological sleep dysfunction, like Parkinson's disease (PD). In PD, we propose that glymphatic flow may be compromised due to the combined neurotoxic effects of alpha-synuclein protein aggregates and deteriorated dopaminergic neurons that are linked to altered REM sleep, circadian rhythms, and clock gene dysfunction. This review highlights the importance of understanding the functional role of glymphatic system disturbance in neurodegenerative disorders and the subsequent clinical and neuropathological effects on disease progression. Future research initiatives utilizing noninvasive brain imaging methods in human subjects with PD are warranted, as in vivo identification of functional biomarkers in glymphatic system functioning may improve clinical diagnosis and treatment of PD.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.05.016

    View details for PubMedID 31132378