Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hoarders' Brains Reveal What Makes Them Unique

When faced with having to decide whether to throw something away or keep it, the brains of people with hoarding disorder show different reactions than do the brains of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and of healthy control subjects. The abnormal activity occurs in the anterior singulate cortex and insula. "Specifically, when deciding about items that did not belong to them, patients with [hoarding disorder] showed relatively lower activity in these brain regions. However, when deciding about items that belonged to them, these regions showed excessive functional magnetic resonance imaging signals compared with the other two groups." The study was conducted by David Tolin, Ph.D., of the Institute of Living in Hartford, Conn., and Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues.

Hoarding disorder is being proposed as a new diagnosis distinct from OCD in the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It has often been considered a subtype of OCD, but recent research has found that many hoarders do not exhibit symptoms that meet current diagnostic criteria required for an OCD diagnosis. To read about hoarding disorder research and discussions of whether it should be a distinct disorder in DSM-5, see Psychiatric News.

(image: MCarper/Shutterstock.com)


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