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WSU research projects focus on memory problems

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

By volunteering as a memory research subject, Johnnie Bosworth of Spokane is helping WSU researchers develop strategies for people with age-related memory loss or cognitive impairment to live safely in their own homes.

We really want to keep people “functioning as independently as possible for as long as possible,” said Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, a clinical neuropsychologist in the Department of Psychology who’s leading the research with faculty in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Considering that nearly one in five U.S. residents will be 65 and older in 2030, “There’s some concern about how we’re going to handle this aging population,” Schmitter-Edgecombe said.

Read more about the research

New insights into role of belief in learning

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger

With support from a $1.6 million grant, a new CAS faculty member is studying people’s beliefs about whether intelligence can be increased and how these beliefs shape our attitudes, behaviors and expectations.

Joyce Ehrlinger, assistant professor of psychology, has begun working with teachers at Pullman High School to apply some of her research to improve students’ math skills. She is reaching out to other educators at WSU and in the surrounding community who can work with youngsters to help them develop “the mindset that they can become smarter.”

“We have tools that have been proven to improve kids’ performance on standardized tests, ultimately just by teaching them this idea that intelligence is changeable.”

Read the article at WSU News

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