Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2016 Nov;14(4):357-364. 10.9758/cpn.2016.14.4.357.

The Effects of Equine-assisted Activities and Therapy on Resting-state Brain Function in Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Pilot Study

Affiliations
  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Neuroscience and Development, Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering, KAIST, Daejeon, Korea. bs.jeong@kaist.ac.kr
  • 2KAIST Institute for Health Science and Technology, KAIST, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. yschoung@skku.edu
  • 4Hae-sol Psychiatric Clinic, Dongtan, Korea.
  • 5Hae-sol Psychiatric Clinic, Seoul, Korea.
  • 6Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Seoul, Korea.
  • 7Samsung Research & Development Center, Samsung Equestrian Team, Gunpo, Korea.
  • 8Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Equine-assisted activities and therapy (EAA/T) have been used as adjunct treatment options for physical and psychosocial rehabilitation. However, the therapeutic effects on resting-state brain function have not yet been studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of EAA/T on participants with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by comparing resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) signals and their clinical correlates.
METHODS
Ten participants with ADHD participated in a 12-week EAA/T program without any medication. Two rs-fMRIs were acquired for all participants before and after EAA/T. For estimating therapeutic effect, the regional homogeneity (ReHo) method was applied to capture the changes in the regional synchronization of functional signals.
RESULTS
After the EAA/T program, clear symptom improvement was found even without medication. Surface-based pairwise comparisons revealed that ReHo in the right precuneus and right pars orbitalis clusters had significantly diminished after the program. Reduced ReHo in the right precuneus cluster was positively correlated with changes in the scores on DuPaul’s ADHD Rating Scale-Korean version.
CONCLUSION
Our results indicate that EAA/T is associated with short-range functional connectivity in the regions related to the default mode network and the behavioral inhibition system, which are associated with symptom improvement.

Keyword

Equine-assisted therapy; Regional homogeneity; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Resting state; Default mode network
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