Pet society

HABRI grant focuses on the impact of pets on ADHD children

Press release: HABRI

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) recently announced that it has awarded a grant to GITAM University (Deemed) for a new study that will examine the impact of pet ownership and interaction human-animal (HAI) on overall social functioning, including social attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aims to fill a critical gap in the current literature by uncovering the potential benefits of IAH on the major deficit areas of ADHD.

“This project brings together an international team of experts to undertake a comprehensive review of social attention and emotional processing in neurotypical children and children living with ADHD,” said Dr Georgitta Valiyamattam, from GITAM University , principal investigator of the study. “We hope to answer a key question: Do fundamental social skills in ADHD have the potential to be affected by animal-assisted interventions? This knowledge will provide the foundation for future research and practice, which we hope will improve the treatment and quality of life for children living with ADHD. Besides Dr Valiyamattam, the team includes Dr Harish Katti, Dr Jessica Taubert, Dr Vinay Chaganti and Dr Virender Sachdeva.

A substantial body of research describes the deficits in social attention and emotional recognition of human faces in ADHD. This project will study the impact of pet ownership on children with ADHD to determine whether AHI can improve social attention and emotional recognition and modulate overall social functioning. State-of-the-art eye tracking technology and rigorous statistical approaches will be deployed to compare the attention paid to human and non-human faces. The researchers will also study the recognition of facial expressions. The research team predicts that children with ADHD will show greater attention and emotion recognition abilities for animal faces compared to human faces. The focus on discovering visual mechanisms regarding HAI may also contribute to virtual applications of animal-assisted interventions for ADHD. Children with ADHD who have pets are also expected to have better social functioning and a better quality of life, with higher levels of pet attachment being associated with better overall outcomes. The results can provide useful information on both the effectiveness of HAIs and pet ownership for ADHD, and the potential ways in which these effects may occur.

“There is a great deal of research on HAI supporting interventions in companion animals to improve the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorders, but not among those with ADHD, and this study has the potential to fill this gap.” , added Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “HABRI is proud to support this important project and this international research team. HABRI has never yet funded an India-based project and is delighted to see the field of HAI continue to expand internationally.

GITAM University is a reputable private university in Visakhapatnam, India with additional campuses in Hyderabad and Bangalore. Founded in 1980, GITAM offers excellent teaching, research and consultancy opportunities in all disciplines including science, humanities, engineering, management and law. The Visakhapatnam campus is also home to the well-equipped hospital and the medical research wing of the University, the GITAM Institute of Medical Science and Research.

HABRI is a non-profit organization that operates the world’s largest online library of research and information on human-animal relationships; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and educates the public on research on human-animal bonds and the beneficial role of companion animals in society.


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