Highlighted areas represent parts of the brain that had significantly lower activity in compulsive hoarders than in healthy control subjects. The regions shown are the right posterior cingulate gyrus (arrow) and the occipital cortex.
Most people save and collect objects that have special meaning. But some people save such large amounts of materials and items that their lives become focused exclusively on the collecting and keeping. In the disorder's worst form, people are unable to throw away even their garbage. They're called compulsive hoarders, and it's estimated they number 1 million Americans.
Now, a new brain imaging study is providing evidence about the specific brain circuits involved in compulsive hoarding. NPR's Michelle Trudeau reports on the research appearing in the June issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.