Resonance mechanisms in autistic children to human-human and human-animal emotional interactions. A combined study by EEG and autonomic activity recording

Maria Elide Vanutelli*, Jean Louis Nandrino, Michela Balconi

*Autore corrispondente per questo lavoro

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaContributo a convegnopeer review


Objective: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often face social anxiety, rejection, social deficits, and negative peer interactions. Thus, developing innovative strategies to improve social communication has become an important aim. One recent solution has been the introduction of human-animal interactions (HAI): convergent evidences, in fact, suggest that animals can encourage social exchange among humans. This effect could be of primary importance for individuals with disabilities, to create a positive context for enhanced socio-emotional development. Nonetheless, the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying the affective and empathic components related to such effects are largely unknown. Participants and Methods: To answer this question, a pilot group of children with ASD (Mage=8.5, SD=1.9) was shown 144 affective pictures (positive vs. negative vs. neutral) depicting both humanhuman (HH) and human-animal (HA) interactions during electroencephalographic (EEG) and autonomic activity (Skin Conductance Level and Response: SCL/SCR; Blood Volume Pulse: BVP; Pulse Volume Amplitude: PVA; Heart Rate: HR) recording. Results: EEG data revealed the presence of a salience monitoring mechanism directed towards HA contexts in the form of increased high-frequency Beta and Alpha bands, while autonomic indices showed the occurrence of arousing mechanisms while viewing interactions involving other peers. Conclusions: The present work provided significant neuroscientific data about resonance and empathic mechanisms in ASD to different social agents, and constitutes an objective contribution to the study of autism in intra and inter-species contexts, with important highlights for future therapeutic support and interventions with both other peers and companion animals during social interactions.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)102-102
Numero di pagine1
RivistaJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016
EventoInternational Neuropsychological Society 2016 Mid-Year Meeting - London
Durata: 6 lug 20168 lug 2016


  • Animal
  • Autism
  • EEG, Autonomic indices
  • Empathy
  • Inter-species
  • Social interaction


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