New Research to Use Brain Imaging to Measure Human-Dog Interaction | HABRI

New Research to Use Brain Imaging to Measure Human-Dog Interaction

Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Partners Award Grant to Purdue University

Washington, D.C. (January 17, 2023) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Pet Partners announced today a grant to Purdue University for a research project that will investigate the impact interacting with a dog has on human brain activity. Researchers will use Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure the neural responses correlating with human-dog interaction, and potential factors that influence these responses.

“We hear stories every day about how our Pet Partners registered therapy dogs and their handlers make a positive difference in peoples’ lives,” said C. Annie Peters, President & CEO of Pet Partners. “We’re proud to fund this research project, which will use imaging technology to gain a deeper understanding of what happens inside the brain when a dog brings comfort to someone in need.”

A large body of research demonstrates the benefits of the human-animal bond for the mental and physical health and wellbeing of people. The most typically deployed measures of these benefits are self-reporting and psychological evaluation, which do not reveal the underlying mechanisms of the human-animal bond, such as changes in brain activity. fNIRS is one of the most common non-invasive functional imaging methods which uses near-infrared light to estimate neural or brain activity.

“Despite analyzing inter-species interactions and dealing with social behaviors, human-animal interaction research from the neuroscience approach is scarce,” said the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Niwako Ogata, associate professor of animal behavior at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. “With the brain imaging expertise of Dr. Yunjie Tong, assistant professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and our collaborators on our inter-disciplinary team approach, we will produce methodologically rigorous evidence regarding the neural correlates of the human-animal bond, enhancing our understanding of the human-animal bond and serving as the basis of future research.”

This project will enroll healthy, dog-owning adult participants to undergo a psychosocial and physiological stress test in a controlled laboratory setting. Participants will interact with both a familiar and unfamiliar dog during the recovery period from the stress test as researchers evaluate the neural response using fNIRS, in addition to more standard saliva testing and self-reports to verify the fNIRS findings. Researchers will also observe canine behavior and heart rate variability to analyze how the dog processes this interaction.

“This study represents important foundational science on the underpinnings of the human-animal bond,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “In supporting this project, HABRI and Pet Partners hope to not only advance the field of human-animal interaction but to also help support the proliferation of safe, effective animal-assisted interventions for people of all ages and health conditions.”

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information, HABRI Central (www.habricentral.org); funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. HABRI Central is housed at Purdue University as a joint effort of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and Purdue University Libraries.

For more information about HABRI, please visit www.habri.org.

About Pet Partners

Pet Partners is the leader in the therapy animal field for registering volunteer teams. Since 1977, we have supported thousands of teams in making millions of safe, effective visits across the country and around the world. Through the human-animal bond, we can improve the physical, social, and emotional lives of both the people and animals involved. Pet Partners supports volunteer teams by offering the highest quality preparation, an unmatched approach to evaluation and registration—for nine different types of animals, and a focus on connections. We elevate the importance of therapy animal visits, and our teams help build a healthier and happier world for us all. Whether or not you have a pet, learn more about sharing the human-animal bond by visiting www.petpartners.org.

Contact

Hayley Maynard

hayley@inspireprgroup.com

614-701-8205

###

Press Releases
PAWS Act Coalition Celebrates Increased Congressional Funding for Grant Program to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence and Their Pets

The PAWS Act Coalition, a group of non–profit and for-profit organizations, lauded the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. For the second year in a row this Act provides funding for an important USDA grant program designed to enable more domestic violence shelters to become pet-friendly so that victims of domestic violence and their pets may seek safe shelter together. The $2.5 million appropriated for 2021 represents a $500,000 increase in funding, coming two years after bipartisan passage of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act as part of the 2019 Farm Bill.   “This funding increase by Congress is a significant step forward in the public-private collaboration to keep domestic violence survivors and their pets together as they escape abuse and heal,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, CEO and President of Purina, and a champion for the company’s Purple Leash Project in partnership with RedRover. “Purina is proud to be part of the Coalition’s efforts to support funding for this important life-saving program, as we continue working to keep pets and people together, even in times of crisis.”  The PAWS Act Coalition would like to thank the original co-sponsors of the Pet and Women Safety Act for their leadership and commitment to its passage, especially the lead sponsors Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and former Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). The Coalition is also particularly grateful to former Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for spearheading the effort to pass the bill by including its language in the Farm Bill.  Domestic violence shelters across the U.S. will be eligible to apply online for grants in the coming months, and additional details about the application process will be forthcoming from the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the grant program.     This continued funding follows the success of the FY 2020 Emergency Transitional Pet Shelter Housing and Assistance...

Press Releases
Pet Partners and HABRI Join Forces to Promote Human-Animal Bond

Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in animal assisted interventions, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation to advance both scientific study and public policy that recognizes the positive impact that companion animals have on human health. “In signing this agreement to develop a more formal working relationship with HABRI, Pet Partners recognizes the importance of developing scientific evidence that shows the positive human health outcomes associated with the human-animal bond,” said Annie Magnant, President and CEO of Pet Partners. “Together, along with the Pet Partners grassroots network of more than 11,000 therapy animal teams, we can share this science and advance policies that recognize the healing power of pets.” “Pet Partners sets the gold standard for animal assisted interventions and has an array of effective programs to help and heal people with the power of the human-animal bond,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI Executive Director. “HABRI has the scientific research programs and Pet Partners has the paws on the ground – it’s a great combination.” Pet Partners and HABRI will work together to support pet-friendly public policies, arming a far-reaching network of Pet Partners therapy animal teams with the latest research results to persuade more people and institutions to recognize the impact of animal assisted interventions. Pet Partners will look at practical applications in program development resulting from HABRI supported research, making the research come to life. HABRI will also promote opportunities for Pet Partners therapy animal teams to participate in high-quality research projects that examine the important role of companion animals in human health. “The phrase ‘human-animal bond’ was coined by Leo Bustad, one of the founders of Pet Partners,” said Magnant. “The importance of evidenced based outcomes is at the very core of the Pet Partners...

Press Releases
New Research to Study Whether Therapy Dogs Can Lower Dose of Sedation in Children Undergoing Surgery

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $79,000 grant to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a new study, The Effect of Animal-Assisted Intervention on Preoperative Anxiety and Dose of Sedation in Children. This study will examine the effect of animal-assisted intervention (AAI) on children’s anxiety levels and sedation medication dosages prior to surgery. “The goal of this study is to determine if interaction with a therapy dog 20 minutes prior to surgery has a significant effect on reducing a child’s anxiety levels and, in turn, lowering the dose of medication necessary for sedation,” said the study’s principal investigator, Zenithson Y. Ng, DVM, MS, College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Tennessee. “The results of this study may be further used to justify and advocate for AAI in various medical situations and open doors for additional research on measurable medical outcomes associated with AAI.” The three-year, cross-over-designed study on behalf of the veterinary college’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Biomedical and Diagnostics Sciences will examine 72 children between the ages of 2 and 17 and randomly determine whether the child receives a therapy dog or an iPad tablet 20 minutes before sedation. Dr. Ng and co-investigators Julia Albright, DVM, MA and Marcy Souza, DVM, MPH, will then evaluate heart rate, blood pressure and medicine levels for sedation and compare the amounts of each group. It is expected that children provided with a therapy dog prior to surgery will have significantly lower preoperative anxiety and will require a decreased amount of medication for sedation compared to children who do not interact with a therapy dog. “Scientific research has shown that therapy dogs in hospital settings can have a calming effect, ease stress and provide reassurance to patients young and old, and to their families as well,” said HABRI Executive Director...

HABRI