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Vancouver professor receives $1.1 million in grants to study how the brain understands what it hears

Christine Portfors
Christine Portfors

Christine Portfors, associate professor of biology and neuroscience and head of the Hearing and Communication Laboratory at Washington State University Vancouver, has received two federal grants totaling more than $1.1 million over three years. The grants will be used to study how neurons in the brains of mice detect, discriminate and categorize the different types of sounds mice use to communicate.

“Mice are social animals, and they use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with each other,” Portfors said. “These vocalizations are similar to the speech sounds used by humans to communicate, so what we learn about the mouse brain will help us understand how humans process speech.”

Read more about the grants

Psychology prof to lecture on public project success, failure

Craig Parks
Craig Parks
Psychology Professor Craig Parks will present “Build the Skate Park and Kill the Swimming Pool: Why People Want Some Societal Projects to Succeed and Others to Fail” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in the Honors Hall Lounge. His presentation will explore the reasons some public projects succeed or fail.

Parks is the inaugural program speaker in the Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series. A branch of his research examines the conditions under which people will work for the common good or actively oppose a collectively beneficial endeavor, and the ways cooperation is affected by individuals’ personality and influence.

“We are pleased that Dr. Parks will be our first guest speaker. His research into human cooperation is ground-breaking,” said M. Grant Norton, dean.

Learn more about the Honors College distinguished speaker

Work, stress and health

Tahira Probst
Tahira Probst

Psychology Professor Tahira Probst studies both job insecurity and the safety climate of organizations. She presented results of a recent study investigating the intersection of those two interests during the 10th International Conference on Occupational Stress and Health.

Three million work-related injuries and illnesses are reported in the United States each year, Probst said, but some studies have found more than three-quarters of workplace injuries go unreported. She hypothesized that when workers feel their jobs are insecure, they are less likely to report accidents and injuries.

Read more about mental health in the workplace

Online psychology program ranked third in nation

The Best Schools
The Best Schools
The online bachelor’s degree in psychology has been ranked third in the nation.

The award from cited the Department of Psychology’s accreditation, the Global Campus’ use of academic consultants to guide students, and the online program’s student government, which offers face-to-face student events.

Best Schools also mentioned WSU’s consistent ranking in the top tier of public schools both nationwide and across the globe. “The Times Higher Ed report named the institution as one of the best in the world,” the group said.

Read more at WSU News

Trust in leaders, sense of belonging stir people to safeguard common goods, analysis shows

Craig Parks
Craig Parks

Psychological researcher Craig Parks and his co-authors emphasize the urgent need to broaden thoughtful use of public goods, noting that charitable contributions are at historic lows, fossil fuel reserves are shrinking, and climate change threatens the planet’s future.

Read more here

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