News highlights for August 30, 2010

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

MSN Health & Fitness
Concussion rates soar among younger kids

High school-age athletes are more likely than younger kids to have sports-related concussions, but the rate of such injuries in both groups is on the rise, a new U.S. study suggests. Awareness of concussions is increasing, according to Dr. Mark Halstead, who co-wrote the new recommendations. Unlike the thinking of a generation ago, concussions aren’t something to “shake off,” said Halstead, an assistant professor of pediatrics and orthopaedics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Link to Article
See also Reuters Health See also Globe and Mail (UK)

Los Angeles Times
Looking at idle brains may aid diagnoses

A series of studies published in recent years suggests that in people with depression, autism, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, the default mode network, that curious pattern of brain activity that ramps up when we daydream, works differently than it does in healthy control subjects. Wiring abnormalities were reported in June by a group led by Dr. Marcus E. Raichle, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis and a pioneer in research on the default mode network. Link to Article

Los Angeles Times
Minding the gaps

New research on the default mode network and mind-wandering has helped focus neuroscientists’ attention on our rich inner world and raises the prospect that our sense of self, our existence as a separate being, can be observed, measured and discussed with rigor. The idea that there may be a physical structure in the brain in which we unconsciously define who we are “would warm Freud’s heart,” says Dr. Marcus E. Raichle, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis who has pioneered work in this fledgling field. “People talk about the self and ask how it achieves some realization in the brain,” Raichle says. The default mode network, he adds, “seems to be a critical element of that organization. It captures many of the features of how we think of ourselves as the self.” Link to Article
Spinal taps may be useful in predicting brain disorders

‘A brief needle-in-the-back test could someday tell you, if you were inclined to know, whether you’re likely to suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and how bad the condition could be. Researchers are using lumbar punctures, or spinal taps, to collect cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, the liquid bathing the brain and spinal cord. They think chemicals in the fluid may be key to predicting and understanding neurological disease. “It allows you to have a window into the biochemistry of the brain,” says Dr. Joy Snider, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Link to Article
Keeping parents’ ‘helicopters’ grounded during college

Many schools are holding orientations for anxious mothers and fathers of freshmen, attempting to teach them a lesson not contained in any traditional curriculum: Let go. Some parents are surprised to learn during orientation at Washington University in St. Louis that they cannot participate in academic advising sessions at which students choose classes, said Danielle Bristow, director of first-year programs. If the parents feel excluded, she explained, “we have to say, ‘we are sorry but this is not for you.’ ” Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Big school incentive: Cash. Sending kids to Jefferson Elementary could net parents $300 per child

A local organization is offering parents a cash incentive to enroll their children at a St. Louis public school. Proponents say the cash rewards are no different from offering college scholarships to top achievers at a high school, and that low-income families need the extra help. Critics counter that the cash prizes fail to address problems that lead to truancy and poor test scores, such as bad teaching or a dull curriculum. “It’s almost like bribing (the students) instead of correcting the core problems,” said Garrett Duncan, an associate professor of education at Washington University. Read Full Text

Channel 4 News at 6PM

The Living Learning Center at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the most stringent green building rating system in the world. No building has yet met this standard and this one is in the running to be the first in North America. Link to Broadcast
Peter Raven’s garden

Missouri Botanical Garden President Peter Raven later this week will hand off his leadership baton for one of St. Louis’ most cherished institutions. Raven was lured to St. Louis, in part, because of the Garden’s connection to WUSTL. Henry Shaw, the man who built the garden and made it a gift to St. Louis, provided in his will that garden directors receive an appointment to Washington University’s Department of Botany. The prospect of leading a venerable public garden with a rich research tradition, while keeping a position on the front lines of scientific thinking at a vibrant university, proved irresistible. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Kindbom expects more energy at Washington U.: Bears have 17 returnees and want to focus on one play at a time.

Washington University football coach Larry Kindbom offers a season-opening update. Last season, the Bears were under .500 for the first time since 1992, Kindbom’s fourth year in charge. The core of the Bears’ squad was sophomores, so the returnees bring a lot of experience, focus and maturity, Kindbom said. A total of 17starters return from last year, but Kindbom’s message this season has another new twist: live in the moment.” I’ve become a strong believer that the most important thing is the next play,” he said. Read Full Text

News in higher education

Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Legislation Seeks To Expand Ability of Urban Universities To Aid Neighboring Communities
Proposed legislation promotes greater participation by universities in rebuilding neighborhoods and attracting businesses and services to their surrounding communities. The Urban University Renaissance Act of the 21st Century (H.R. 5567) provides assistance to universities to help them serve as leaders in rebuilding neighborhoods and attracting businesses and services to urban communities and regions. In addition, it would help universities develop local and regional partnerships to address disparities in public school education, health, housing and environmental quality. Link to Article

Associated Press / Boston Globe
Colleges see prospective donors among new students

The drill for new college students remains pretty consistent: grab a campus map, buy some overpriced textbooks, save those quarters for laundry and don’t forget to call home. On a growing number of campuses, first-year students are hearing another message. Please give. Not for tuition, but instead as a young donor. Link to Article

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