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Most who use pot to get a good night’s rest quit using sleep aids

A recent peer-reviewed study has produced data showing that people who struggle with sleep might be favoring cannabis over other common prescription and over the counter sleep aids.

The study, published in Exploration of Medicine found that 80% of cannabis users with sleep issues reported no longer needing prescription or over-the-counter sleep medication. Sixty percent of people who used cannabis alone were able to fall asleep and stay asleep for at least six hours, compared to only 20% of people who used alternatives.

The study was conducted by analyzing responses to surveys by a Canadian cannabis data company called Strainprint. The researchers looked at data from 1,216 participants who all self-reported that they use cannabis to help them fall asleep or stay asleep. Senior author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Washington State University, Carrie Cuttler, said in a written statement that some of the study participants actually sought out particular strains with particular terpenes specifically to help them sleep.

“One of the findings that surprised me was the fact that people are seeking the terpene myrcene in cannabis to assist with sleep,” Cuttler said. “There is some evidence in the scientific literature to support that myrcene may help to promote sleep, so cannabis users seemed to have figured that out on their own.”

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Preschoolers show cultural differences in generosity, competitiveness

In a set of sharing experiments, Spanish-speaking Latino preschoolers were more likely to choose options that would be more generous to others, even over a more equal sharing choice.

Their English-speaking peers in the Washington State University study more often chose the most competitive option, one that advantaged themselves over others. The most competitive among that group were English-speaking Latino children, a finding that the researchers believe may reflect their desire to transition to the more individualistic American culture.

Paul Strand.

This study not only adds evidence that children from collectivist cultures, which prioritize the good of the group over the individual, show those values early, but also helps distinguish their motivations.

“We knew that Spanish-speaking kids tended to be more cooperative, but we didn’t know whether that had to do with generosity or wanting things to be equal. Our work shows that they’re not more driven by equality. They’re just flat out more generous,” said Paul Strand, a WSU psychologist and senior author of the study published in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

Strand, along with WSU graduate students Erinn Savage and Arianna Gonzales, ran a set of game-based experiments with 265 children ranging in age from 3 to 5 who were all enrolled in a Head Start preschool program. They used three “economic dictator games,” originally developed by Swiss and German researchers, which give children choices on keeping and giving items they liked.

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Gerontechnology research provides undergraduate students opportunities

A multidisciplinary program at Washington State University funded by the National Institute of Aging is engaging undergraduate students in scientific research that may help older adults live independently longer.

The WSU Gerontechnology-Focused Student Undergraduate Research Experience (GSUR) connects students from complementary degree programs such as sociology, nursing, medicine, computer science, electrical engineering, and clinical psychology. It introduces them to faculty mentors and opens doors to a wide range of careers that support the world’s aging population.

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe.

“The beauty of this opportunity is how it brings together students from varying degree programs and amplifies their future impact,” said Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, co-PI for the multi-year grant and a Regents professor in the Department of Psychology. “For example, when students who have participated in GSUR take on projects in their chosen career field—say perhaps designing a community park—their awareness of what older adults require will likely influence their blueprint.”

Since GSUR’s inception in 2016, WSU has received $2.7 million in grant funding from the NIA to support student research fellowships and training in the growing field of gerontechnology, which blends the study of aging with the use of technology.

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Expert in temperament development Maria Gartstein to chair psychology department

Maria "Masha" Gartstein.

Professor Maria “Masha” Gartstein, an expert in developmental psychology, has been appointed to serve as chair of the WSU Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) beginning Aug. 16, 2023.

Gartstein currently directs the Clinical Training Program in psychology and heads the Infant Temperament Laboratory while also teaching graduate and undergraduate courses and seminars.

“Dr. Gartstein’s extensive leadership experience, both within and outside WSU, have prepared her well to take on this role, and I am excited to work with her and her colleagues to advance the next stage of the department’s development,” said Todd Butler, CAS dean.

“As chair, I look forward to leveraging the WSU Psychology department’s many strengths in student success, scholarship, and community engagement to expand the visibility of our programs and training opportunities,” Gartstein said.

In addition to facilitating faculty connections across the WSU system and supporting the growth of interdisciplinary collaborations, she intends to focus on fostering “greater communication beyond typical academic channels and translating the transformative research under way in the department to showcase our work and its impact, particularly to our communities and stakeholders,” she said.

Since joining the psychology faculty in 2002, Gartstein has taught a variety of courses, from abnormal and developmental psychology to professional ethics and child and adolescent therapy. She has also published broadly from her research, much of it focused on the evaluation of early childhood temperament development.

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Six WSU faculty named new members of Washington State Academy of Sciences

Mechthild Tegeder.
Tahira Probst.
Jan Dasgupta.

Three members of CAS faculty are among six WSU professors recently elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS): Nairanjana Dasgupta, in mathematics and statistics and data analytics; Tahira Probst in psychology; and Mechthild Tegeder in biological sciences.

They are part of the 29-member class of 2023 inductees who join the nonprofit organization with a mission to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.

“WSAS is proud to elevate these exceptional individuals for the many ways in which they have advanced scientific and engineering excellence,” said John Roll, WSAS president and WSU professor and vice dean of research at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “We look forward to engaging them in addressing complex societal challenges not only for the benefit of the citizens of Washington state but for all citizens of the world.”

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