Physical or Intellectual Hoarding Causes
Research seems to support the fact that brain differences contribute to OCD, and possibly hoarding. For example, a team at the University of Cambridge's Department of Psychiatry carried out a study in 2008 that used fMRI to measure brain activity during a cognitive activity. They looked at the brain activity of fourteen people who had OCD, twelve of their immediate relatives, and fourteen people who had no family history of OCD. During the study, they showed subjects pictures and conducted a simple picture test that would provoke decision making. They found that subjects with OCD, as well as their immediate relatives, had less activity in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) than the control group. The OFC is one of the parts of the brain responsible for decision making, which explains why people with OCD, as well as compulsive hoarders, may have problems making decisions.
This study may also explain how brain changes contribute to hoarding, which is closely related to OCD. For example, compulsive hoarding may occur after strokes, surgery, injuries, or brain-related infections. Compulsive hoarders may have abnormal brain development or brain lesions.
People with OCD may also have difficulties with information processing, resulting in difficulties in decision-making, categorization, or memory. For example, a compulsive hoarder may have difficulty with deciding what to do with specific possessions, categorizing possessions, or remembering where possessions are.