Richard Neufeld

Dr. Richard W. J. (Jim) Neufeld

Professor Emeritus - Clinical Science and Psychopathology


  • Bio

  • Publications

  • Research

Biographical Information

I was raised in Lethbridge, Alberta, attended the University of Alberta for a B.A., and received my M.Sc. (1970) and Ph.D. (1972) degrees in Psychology from the University of Calgary. Except for a brief stint as Professor of Psychology and Clinical Director at Simon Fraser University in the mid-late 1970’s, I have been with the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. Currently, I am also cross-appointed to the Department of Psychiatry, where I am a member of the Neuro-Psychiatry Division, and I am a member of the university’s Neuroscience Program.

Selected Publications

Taylor R., Schaefer B., Densmore M., Neufeld R., Rajakumar N., Williamson P., Théberge J.  (In press). Increased glutamate observed upon functional activation in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex using the Stroop Task and functional spectroscopy. Neuroreport.

Neufeld, R.W.J. (In press). Mathematical modeling applications in clinical psychology. In Busemeyer, J.R., J.T. Townsend, Z. Wang, & A. Eidels (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Computational and Mathematical Psychology. Oxford, U.K.

Neufeld, R.W.J., Shanahan, M.J., Townsend, J.T. & (In press). Mathematical models in clinical psychology. In R. Cautin & S. Lilienfield (Eds.); R. Zinbarg (Section Ed.) Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology. London, Wiley-Blackwell.

Gardner, R.C., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2013). What the correlation coefficient really tells us about the individual? Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science. 45 (4), 313-319. (see also ‘Additional Tables’, under ‘Supplementary Manuscripts and Materials’, below)

Levy, L.R., Yao, W., McGuire, M., Vollick, D.N., Jetté, J., Shanahan, M.J., Hay, J. & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2012). Nonlinear bifurcations of psychological stress negotiation: New properties of a formal dynamical model. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 16, 429-456.

Shanahan, M.J., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2010). Coping with stress: Quantification of negotiating with the environment. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 63, 575-601. (Additionally, see  Online supplement to this publication, also listed in ‘Supplementary Materials’ in section below).
Stead, R., Shanahan, M.J., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2010). "I'll go to therapy, eventually": Procrastination, stress, and mental health. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 175-180.
Neufeld, R.W.J., & Townsend, J.T. (Eds.; 2010). Special Issue: Contributions of Mathematical Psychology to Clinical Science and Assessment. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 54, Issue 1, pp. 2-214 (February 2010).
Townsend, J.T., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2010). Introduction to special issue on contributions of mathematical psychology to clinical science and assessment. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 54, 1-4.
Neufeld, R.W.J., Boksman, K., Vollick, D., George, L., Carter, J.R. (2010). Stochastic dynamics of stimulus encoding in schizophrenia: Theory, testing, and application. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 54, 90-108.
Carter, J.R., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2007). Cognitive processing of facial effect: Neuroconnectionist modeling of deviations in schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 166, 290-305.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (Ed.), (2007). Advances in clinical cognitive science: Formal modeling and assessment of processes and symptoms. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Publications. 319 pp. (solicited)
Neufeld, R.W.J. (2007). Composition and uses of formal clinical cognitive science. In B. Shuart, W. Spaulding & J. Poland (Eds.), Modeling Complex Systems: Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 52, pp. 1-83). Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. (Invited)
Neufeld, R.W.J. (2007). On the centrality and significance of encoding deficit in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 33, 982-993.
Neufeld, R.W.J., Townsend, J.T., & Jetté, J. (2007). Quantitative Response Time Technology for Measuring Cognitive-Processing Capacity in Clinical Studies. In R.W.J. Neufeld (ed.), Advances in clinical cognitive science: Formal modeling of processes and symptoms (pp. 207-238). Washington, D.C., U.S.A.: American Psychological Association.
Townsend, J.T., Fific, M., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2007). Assessment of mental architecture in clinical/cognitive research. In Teresa A. Treat, Richard R. Bootzin, & Timothy B. Baker, Psychological Clinical Science: Papers in honor of Richard M. McFall (pp. 223-258). New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Psychology Press.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (2002). Trajectory of cognitive science and psychological assessment: Current status and expectations. Psychological Assessment, 14, 299-303.
Neufeld, R.W.J., Carter, J.R., Boksman, K., Jetté, J., & Vollick, D. (2002). Application of stochastic modelling to group and individual differences in cognitive functioning. Psychological Assessment, 14, 279-298.
Carter, J.R., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (1999). Cognitive processing of multidimensional stimuli in schizophrenia: Formal modeling of judgment speed and content. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 633-654.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (1999). Dynamic differentials of stress and coping. Psychological Review, 106, 385-397.
Carter, J.R., Neufeld, R.W.J., & Benn, K.D. (1998). Application of process models in assessment psychology: Potential assets and challenges. Psychological Assessment, 10, 379-395.
Kukde, M.P., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (1994). Facial electromyographic measures distinguish covert coping from stress response to stimulus threat. Personality and Individual Differences, 16, 211-228.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (1990). Coping with stress, coping without stress, and stress with coping: On inter-construct redundancies. Stress Medicine, 6, 117-125.
Neufeld, R.W.J., & Gardner, R.C. (1990). Data aggregation in evaluating psychological constructs: Multivariate and logical-deductive considerations. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 34, 276-296.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (1989). (Ed.), Advances in the investigation of psychological stress. New York: John Wiley & Sons. (463 pp.)
Morrison, M.S., Neufeld, R.W.J., & Lefebvre, L.A. (1988). The economy of probabilistic stress: Interplay of controlling activity and threat reduction. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 41, 155-177.
Neufeld, R.W.J. (1982). (Ed.), Psychological stress and psychopathology. New York: McGraw-Hill (367 pp) [Contemporary Psychology Review: Steffy, R.A. Support for the fourth and fifth axes. Contemporary Psychology, 1983, 395-396.]
Neufeld, R.W.J. (1977). Clinical quantitative methods. New York: Grune & Stratton. (200 pp.). [Contemporary Psychology Review: Kowalski, C.J. That's showing those clinicians. Contemporary Psychology, 1978, 23, 812-813.]
Supplementary Manuscripts
Neufeld, Richard W.J., Townsend, James T., & Shanahan, Matthew J. (unpublished). There are models and then there are models: Not-so-subtle distinctions between mathematical and statistical modeling. Unpublished commentary on Joseph L. Rodgers' article "The epistemology of mathematical and statistical modeling: A quiet methodological revolution", American Psychologist, 65, 1-12.
Shanahan, M.J., & Neufeld, R.W.J. (2010). Coping with stress: Quantification of negotiating with the environment. Online supplement to Brit. J. Math. & Stat. Psych. Article.
Gardner, R.C. & Neufeld, R.W.J. (unpublished). Additional Tables for “What does the coefficient of correlation really tells us about the individual?”.


My research interests throughout have centered on psychological stress and coping, and as well on cognitive functioning in schizophrenia. A natural outgrowth is an interest in vulnerability to stress in schizophrenia: what is it about their cognitive debilities that makes for these patients’ susceptibility, and conversely what aspects of coping present them with special problems? To a large degree, coping with stress takes mental effort. I have focused on dissecting the nature of cognitive demands involved, with an eye to explaining and measuring individual strengths and weaknesses in coping efficacy.

Struck by the value of mathematical modeling as a tool for grappling with the complexities, I have endeavored to infuse each avenue of investigation with quantitative reasoning. In the case of stress and coping, for example, a game-like analysis has been used to specify how stress resolution depends on processing information requisite to the evaluation of coping options. In the case of schizophrenia cognition, mathematical models of characteristic speed and accuracy in performing mental tasks, have been modified in certain ways to capture performance deviations that occur with the disorder. Modified features indicate functions that have been affected, and features that remain intact signify functions that nevertheless are spared. Awards for these researches have included a Joey and Toby Tannenbaum Schizophrenia-Research Distinguished Scientist Award, an Ontario Mental Health Foundation Senior Research Fellowship, and a Faculty of Social Science Research Professorship.

Augmenting my laboratory’s projects of late have been developments stemming from some important collaborations. Increased impetus for the work on stress and coping has come from the application of nonlinear-dynamical-systems theory (i.e., “chaos theory”, in the popular vernacular). The approach helps us express precisely how stress, coping and related variables continuously impact on each other over time. Rigorous analysis of our theoretical system has been lent by contributors from applied mathematics, physics, and engineering. Other collaborations, here and at the University of Alberta, in turn are availing us of the latest fMRI technology to map the neuro-circuitry of extreme stress susceptibility (post-traumatic stress disorder), and of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia.

Research Activity

a) Stress and Coping
We have been constructing formal theoretical models of stress, mechanisms of coping, and coping-related demands on cognitive processes. Of focal concern has been the development of methods for estimating individual strengths and weaknesses in the required cognitive faculties, and the relation of these abilities to affinity for selected forms coping, and to efficacy of coping implementation. As the necessary information processing takes place in the company of stress, stress itself may affect processing efficiency. Stress, in other words, may compromise its own resolution. Our strategy for examining these effects has been as follows. Mathematical models of normal cognition are perturbed so as to express changes that take place under stress. The changes in model composition are deemed to unveil the adverse, and sometimes beneficial effects of stress on cognitive functioning.

Recent extensions include the examination of brain-activation correlates of cognitive dysfunction associated with extremes in stress susceptibility (post-traumatic- stress disorder). This work capitalizes on state-of-the-art fMRI methodology and instrumentation, available through collaborations at the Robarts Research Institute, U.W.O., and at the University of Alberta.

Our dynamical systems approach to the topic (please see biographical sketch, above) specifies that stress, coping, cognitive efficiency and environmental pressures are in a state of flux, affecting each other continuously. The parent model has been subjected to extensive computer-simulation and mathematical analyses, involving advanced model diagnostics. These analyses now have been augmented with field studies, using diary methods and the latest in hand-held computer technology. All formal analyses, and empirical testing, have been conducted in close liaison with graduate students.

b) Schizophrenia
Identification of cognitive dysfunction has proceeded as follows. Mathematical models of normal speed and accuracy in performing cognitive tasks are titrated to accommodate performance changes associated with schizophrenia. Similar to the case of stress effects, aspects of performance models that change indicate affected functions, and those remaining unaltered indicate functions that are spared. Invigorating recent developments include extensions of our findings to neuro-connectionist analyses, where (loosely speaking) brain circuitry is mimicked via computer simulation. They include, as well, mapping of actual neuro-circuitry of the modeled performance deviations, thanks to the above world-class fMRI facility at the Robarts Research Institute. Pursuant to these latter developments, the application of formal models of cognition holds promise of better depicting the exact cognitive functions whose brain circuitry is being assessed. Again, there has been substantial graduate student involvement in the implementation of cognitive paradigms in the fMRI environment, and in bringing to bear contemporary advances in statistical analysis of fMRI signals.

Support for the work on stress and coping comes mainly from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and that on schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, mainly from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

c) Other Activities

Additional activities include:
• Past Chairman, Board of the Ontario Mental Health Foundation;
• Past member of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
• Examinations Committee, and past Chairman of the Academic Standards Subcommittee.

Since 1998, I have helped edit Psychological Assessment, the American Psychological
Association’s journal of applied assessment technology, and deemed to be the
flagship journal in the field.