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Cannabis use blunts stress reactivity in female rats

Female rats that inhaled vaporized cannabis daily for a month developed a blunted physiological response to stress, according to a new study by Washington State University researchers.

The WSU scientists’ work also establishes a direct, experimental relationship between chronic cannabis use and dampened stress reactivity.

Carrie Cuttler.

“We were able to show pretty conclusively that chronic cannabis use can, in fact, significantly dampen stress reactivity in female rats,” said Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor of psychology at WSU and co-author of the study.  “Until now, no one has been able to establish whether this blunted stress response is the cause or the consequence of cannabis use.”

After the 30-day self-administration period, only the female rats that had access to the medium potency cannabis demonstrated a significantly muted physiological response. The rats that were given access to the medium potency cannabis also tended to respond more for the substance and had higher concentrations of the drug in their blood after the experiment which may explain why this group specifically demonstrated the blunted stress response.

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Context, not screen time, is a better predictor of well-being among student-athletes

Why and when student–athletes use social media, rather than how much, has a greater influence on their mental health, according to one of the first wide-scale surveys of social media engagement and well-being in college athletes.

Chris Barry.

“A user’s perception of their social media use and the importance it has in their daily life is particularly telling,” said Chris Barry, psychology professor and principal investigator for the project.

“We saw a huge increase in screen time, but a lot of that was very functional for what they had to do academically and what they had to do to stay connected with friends and family,” said Barry. “However, we saw decreases in reported anxiety, stress, and loneliness, which were completely counter to what we expected. In hindsight, it may have been a sense of relief about some academic and athletic demands being lowered; and it may also have been a sense of ‘we’re all in this weird common experience.’”

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WSU Insider

Berry named National Jersey Queen

Natalie Berry.

Natalie Berry, Sherwood, Ore., has been crowned the 63rd National Jersey Queen. Natalie was presented the Charlene Nardone Crown by 2019 National Jersey Queen Gracie Krahn on November 8, 2020, at the start of the National Jersey Jug Futurity.

Natalie is a sophomore at Washington State University studying nursing and minoring in psychology. Her goal is to become a pediatric nurse where she can advocate for the dairy industry to children and their families about the importance of having dairy in their diets. This plays into her platform of “choosing Jersey milk products and other milk products to have a well-balanced diet.”

“Being a college student, I now understand the importance of having a well-balanced nutritional diet while not trying to spend all of my money on groceries. Jersey milk and other milk products have seven (7) naturally occurring nutrients that help to maintain a healthy body. College is a time of discovering yourself and where you would like your life to lead. Students tend to be influenced by those around them and this gives me a large audience to teach the importance that Jersey and dairy products can have on someone’s everyday life.”

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Hoard’s Dairyman

Is it ever good to be spiteful?

On a memorable episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the curmudgeonly protagonist Larry David is angered by the lukewarm lattes at his local café so he opens a “spite” café. It is an identical coffee shop and right next door, but everything is cheaper. He runs it at a personal financial loss, but is driven by the thought of putting his neighbour out of business. It is magnificently mean-spirited, petty, spiteful – and humorous.

David Marcus.

“I don’t think there’s a gene for spitefulness,” says David Marcus, a psychology professor at Washington State University and a trailblazer in the study of spite. “But there are core personality traits with a fairly high genetic loading.” These include antagonism (aggression towards others) and callousness (lack of empathy), key components in spitefulness and other related antisocial traits, including sadism and psychopathy.

In an ideal world we would all cooperate out of pure altruism, in the way the wellness movement advocates. But most of us have a measure of spitefulness (and other dark traits) inside us and, occasionally, it can lead to good things. Obviously we’re not all about to go out and spite each other – God forbid – yet being reminded of the full range of our personalities provides a timely dose of realism. If nothing else, it’s a healthy counterpoint to the perfect yet unrealistic sheen of niceness.

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The Guardian

Study reveals how economic worries can up Covid-19 risk

Workers experiencing job and financial insecurity are less likely to follow the guidelines for Covid-19, such as physical distancing, limiting trips from home and washing hands, say researchers.

Tahira Probst.

“The extent to which economic stressors will impact that behaviour is in part a function of where we live,” said study author and professor of psychology, Tahira Probst from Washington State University in the US.

“Having a fall back, a strong safety net to catch you, seemed to help mitigate the risk factors of job insecurity that was otherwise associated with less adherence to the guidelines,” Probst added. The researchers, who surveyed 745 workers in 43 states, also found that state unemployment benefits and Covid-19 policies affected the connection between economic concerns and compliance with the Covid precautions.

These differences could have significant public health ramifications, the authors argue, since research suggests that even modest reductions in social contacts among adults can reduce infection and eventual death rates.

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