Aug. 6, 2012 -- Two brain regions go on high alert when hoarders must decide whether to keep something they own or throw it away.
In a new study in Archives of General Psychiatry, brain images of those regions show that hoarders respond quite differently when making such decisions than people with obsessive compulsive disorder and people without any mental disorder.
"That brain network goes into hyperdrive, starts freaking out," says researcher David Tolin, PhD, a psychologist at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Conn. "The task seems to overload the network."
When it comes to their own possessions, says Tolin, the decision-making process for hoarders becomes very difficult, even painful, so they avoid it. And so, stuff keeps piling up.
"It's very common, and it can be very sad," he says.