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Reading the mind in the eyes in PTSD: Limited Moderation by the presence of a service dog

By S. H. Woodward, A. L. Jamison, C. Khan, S. Gala, C. Bhowmick, D. Villasenor, G. Tamayo, M. Puckett, K. J. Parker

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Abstract

Persons with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently experience relationship failures in family and occupational domains resulting in loss of social supports. Prior research has implicated impairments in social cognition. The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) measures a key component of social cognition, the ability to infer the internal states of other persons based on features of the eyes region of the face; however, studies administering this popular test to persons with PTSD have yielded mixed results. This study assessed RMET performance in 47 male U.S. military Veterans with chronic, severe PTSD. Employing a within-subjects design that avoided selection biases, it aimed specifically to determine whether components of RMET performance, including accuracy, response latency, and stimulus dwell time, were improved by the company of a service dog, an intervention that has improved social function in other populations. RMET accuracies and response latencies in this PTSD sample were in the normal range. The presence of a familiar service dog did not improve RMET accuracy, reduce response latencies, or increase dwell times. Dog presence increased the speed of visual scanning perhaps consistent with reduced social fear.

Publication Title J Psychiatr Res
Volume 155
Pages 320-330
ISBN/ISSN 0022-3956
DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.09.012
Language eng
Author Address National Center for PTSD, Dissemination and Training Division, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, 3801 Miranda Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94304, USA. Electronic address: Steve.woodward@va.gov.National Center for PTSD, Dissemination and Training Division, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, 3801 Miranda Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94304, USA.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 401 Quarry Rd., Stanford, CA, 94305-5485, USA.Trauma Recovery Programs and Recreation Service, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, 3801 Miranda Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94304, USA.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 401 Quarry Rd., Stanford, CA, 94305-5485, USA; Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA, 94305-5342, USA.
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Tags
  1. Animals
  2. Dogs
  3. Humans
  4. Interests
  5. Males
  6. Service animals
  7. social cognition
  8. Stress
  9. trauma
  10. veterans