Hoarders, or people who can't bear to throw away even the most useless of junk, often can't see that they have a problem. But new research pinpoints that problem in their brains.
A new study finds abnormal activity in brain regions of people with hoarding disorder who were asked to decide about keeping something versus tossing it. The brain regions control decisionmaking under uncertain conditions, as well as risk assessment and emotional choices.
"Hoarding seems to be characterized by problems in the decisionmaking process that can be seen in patterns of brain activity," said David Tolin, the director of the anxiety disorders center at the Connecticut-based mental health center The Institute of Living.
The drive to hoard has been linked with a number of other psychological impairments, from difficulty with attention to problems making decisions. As odd as it may seem given that many hoarders' homes are piled with junk and garbage, the disorder is associated with perfectionism, tied to a fear of making the wrong decision.