People with “hoarding disorder” have abnormalities in brain function distinctly different from obsessive compulsive disorder.
It may be a problem with decision-making
“We wanted to see whether the brain activity of people who hoard is different from that of people with OCD, and whether it is different from that of healthy people,” explained study author David Tolin. “We also wanted to understand whether people who hoard show an abnormal brain response to decisions about whether to keep things or throw them away.”
fMRIs revealed the process
To look ascertain the differences with hoarders, researchers a volunteer pool of about 100 people. One third were healthy adults, one third were diagnosed with OCD and one third were diagnosed with a hoarding disorder. They were each asked to bring a paper object from home and they were also given a paper object at the test center. Each person was asked to decide whether to keep or toss each item. Functional MRIs were administered throughout the decision-making process. The hoarding group ultimately gave up the fewest items. They also showed distinctly different brain patterns while making their decision.
Hoarding is not OCD
“These findings further suggest that hoarding should be considered separate from OCD, and that it deserves recognition as a unique psychiatric disorder,” Tolin furthered. “It also showed us that people who hoard have a hard time processing information normally, and that when they have to make a decision their brain goes into overdrive – specifically, those parts that are involved with identifying the relative importance or significance of things.”
Tolin’s team will next look at behavioral therapy to see if it has an effect on hoarding. While fewer than 1% of the population suffers from this condition, it is serious and extremely unhealthy, even dangerous, for people living with the disorder.
Source: US News and World Report