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Dr. Universe: Do babies have ways of communicating? –Jalen, 12, North Carolina

I learned a lot about how babies use emotion to communicate from my friend Masha Gartstein, a professor of psychology at Washington State University.

Masha Maria Gartstein.

She told me that crying is just one way babies communicate. After two or three months, babies will usually start to smile with a purpose.

“It’s an amazing thing,” Gartstein said. “That becomes another way of communicating.”

It’s also a nice relief for caregivers, or a baby’s brothers and sisters, especially after hearing lots of crying for a few months. Babies and caregivers can now both communicate joy or happiness.

At about six months old, babies can usually respond to their own names. But they still can’t talk like kids and grown-ups.

Instead, they might use gestures or point at things to communicate ideas to others. They might use their hands, fingers, or bodies to send out a message like, “I want that toy!” or “Look what I did!”

When a baby is about twelve months old, they will start to put together sounds that make up words like “mama” or “dada.” All the while, the baby’s personality is developing, too.

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Dr. Universe


Music faculty receive international acclaim for 2019 album “Feng”

feng cover.The Pan Pacific Ensemble’s debut album “Feng” has been listed as one of the top 10 classical recordings of 2019 by The Daffodil Perspective.

Washington State University School of Music faculty members Martin King (horn), Keri E. McCarthy (oboe), Shannon Scott (clarinet), and Sophia Tegart (flute) make up the Pan Pacific Ensemble along with bassoonist Michael Garza (Principal Bassoon, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra).

“Feng” was initially funded by a WSU New Faculty Seed Grant and was recorded in the WSU Recording Studio.

The album contains works by Asian and Asian-American composers, several of which were newly commissioned for the Pan Pacific Ensemble.

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WSU Insider

Coming to a TV near you: $163 million in political ads for the top 2020 Colorado races

The 2020 election arrived six months ago on Colorado’s TV screens and reached $7.2 million in political advertising by the end of the year.

But that’s just a drop in the 2020 advertising bucket. One election watcher predicts Colorado will see $163 million worth of TV and digital ads this year just in the presidential and U.S. Senate contests.

Travis Ridout.

“There’s enough evidence right now that Senate control could be in play in 2020. That really attracts the advertisers,” said Travis Ridout, a Washington State University political scientist and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising. “I expect we’ll see a lot more from the Trump campaign than we did in 2016. I expect that small-dollar democratic donors are going to empty their wallets to defeat Trump in 2020.”

Coloradans already are getting attention from presidential candidates as the state prepares to hold its first presidential primary election in 20 years on Super Tuesday, March 3. Then there’s the nationally watched U.S. Senate contest, where Cory Gardner is one of the top Democratic targets in the Nov. 3 election.

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The Colorado Sun 

New study shows decline in legislative civility in Idaho

Civility has declined at the Idaho Legislature, but not as much as in other states or in Washington, D.C., according to a new study.

Nicholas Lovrich.

Researchers from 11 universities around the nation joined in the study, led by Nicholas Lovich, professor emeritus in political science at Washington State University. It was funded by the National Institute for Civil Discourse and WSU. It surveyed more than 1,300 lobbyists who work in state legislatures in all 50 states, and followed up on a survey three years earlier of legislators themselves.

The survey showed Idaho isn’t immune to a national trend toward less civility, less compromise and more polarization in civic discourse, accompanied by declining trust in U.S. government institutions.

“There’s a broad feeling that something’s wrong, that something’s broken,” Lovrich said , “that we used to do things in a way that wasn’t so nasty and wasn’t so horrible.”

The study explored whether the gridlock that’s emerged in Congress is beginning to infect state legislatures, and it found that, at least in the view of lobbyists, it has started to, but to a much lesser extent. The lobbyists who were surveyed represent a wide array of interests, from contract lobbyists for private business interests to those representing agencies, non-profits and public interest groups.

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A new take on the WSU Fight Song

From Devo’s quirky take on the Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to Daughtry’s acoustic cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” musicians often reimagine popular tunes in their own style. In honor of the WSU Fight Song’s 100th anniversary, the Cougar Marching Band will perform four different arrangements of the beloved tune during the WSU football halftime show on Saturday, Nov. 16, in Martin Stadium.

Troy Bennefield.

Written by two music students in Pullman, the WSU Fight Song was first published in February 1919 and had its home football debut on Nov. 1, 1919, at the WSC game against the University of Idaho, “so this year’s first home game in November is the perfect opportunity to showcase the song along with the arranging skills of our talented music faculty,” said Troy Bennefield, assistant professor of music and director of athletic bands.

The four versions to be performed on Saturday include the original vocal score, a Dixieland jazz arrangement, a Big Band swing version, and an updated 2019 arrangement for the full band.

Horace Alexander Young.

Horace Alexander Young, an accomplished international recording artist and associate professor of saxophone and jazz studies at WSU, arranged the Dixieland score for the Cougar Marching Band. Saturday will be the first time it has been performed live for an audience.

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WSU Insider