The NARSAD Feed: NARSAD Funded-Research, A Basketball Star Takes Mental Health Issues to Washington and Your Brain on Cell Phones

by Barbara Wheeler, NARSAD manager of communications and media relations
Check out the NARSAD newsfeed on our website! Here are a few of the week’s “must reads” from the feed and other notables:

NARSAD-Funded Research Uses Genome-Wide Association Studies To Advance Understanding of Sleep Disorders
NARSAD Young Investigator David Raizen, M.D., Ph.D., part of team to identify four gene variants associated with restless legs syndrome and two variants associated with narcolepsy. These discoveries open up new paths of research to understand the pathophysiology of these disorders.

Bother Me, I’m Thinking
In recent years … scientists have begun to outline the surprising benefits of not paying attention. Sometimes, too much focus can backfire; all that caffeine gets in the way. For instance, researchers have found a surprising link between daydreaming and creativity – people who daydream more are also better at generating new ideas. Other studies have found that employees are more productive when they’re allowed to engage in “Internet leisure browsing” and that people unable to concentrate due to severe brain damage actually score above average on various problem-solving tasks.

Lakers’ Ron Artest Tells Congress: ‘It’s Normal To Have a Mental-Health Issue’
One man had everyone turning their heads Thursday on Capitol Hill: Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest. Artest is typically known for his tenacious defense on the basketball court, but he gave an assist to mental-health advocates in Congress on Thursday. The former All-Star was hosted by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), who represents part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. He spoke on a panel of mental-health advocates regarding the Mental Health in Schools Act, which, according to the congresswoman’s office, would allocate federal grant funding for mental-health services in schools. The legislation was introduced on Thursday.
Kenya’s Mentally Ill Locked Up and Forgotten
The Kenyan government spends less than one percent of its health budget on mental health though their own figures show that one-quarter of all patients going to hospitals or clinics complain of mental health issues. And the Health and Medical Services ministries have been plagued by a series of corruption scandals in recent years. More than $3 billion in public money was stolen in 2009, according to the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. This could have funded the entire ministry responsible for mental health – for 10 years.

Cellphone Use Tied to Changes in Brain Activity
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have found that less than an hour of cellphone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna, raising new questions about the health effects of low levels of radiation emitted from cellphones.


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