Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

PET Study Finds Neurobiology Of Hoarders Differs From Other Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Patients

Date:
June 3, 2004
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
A PET imaging study conducted at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute indicates the neurobiology of America's estimated 1 million compulsive hoarders differs significantly from people with other obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. The findings indicate that different medications could improve treatment success.

A PET imaging study conducted at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute indicates the neurobiology of America's estimated 1 million compulsive hoarders differs significantly from people with other obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. The findings indicate that different medications could improve treatment success.

Detailed in the June 4 edition of the peer-reviewed American Journal of Psychiatry, the study is the first to examine the neurobiology of people with compulsive hoarding and saving, one of several symptom clusters associated with OCD.

The study identified lower brain activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus of compulsive hoarders, compared with other OCD patients. This brain structure helps govern decision-making, focused attention, motivation and problem-solving, cognitive functions that are frequently impaired in compulsive hoarders. The study also found a correlation between severity of hoarding symptoms and lower brain activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus across all of the study subjects with OCD.

In addition, the hoarding group showed decreased brain activity in the posterior cingulate gyrus compared to healthy control subjects who had no OCD symptoms. The posterior cingulate gyrus is involved in spatial orientation and memory. The decreased activity in hoarders may explain why they have difficulty with excessive clutter and fear of losing belongings.

The findings also demonstrate how neurobiological testing could improve diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Lower activity in the anterior and posterior cingulate areas may not only underlie compulsive hoarding symptoms, but also their poor response to standard treatments for OCD. The results suggest cognitive-enhancing medications commonly used in patients with age-related dementia may be more effective at treating compulsive hoarding behaviors than standard OCD medications such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

"Our work shows that hoarding and saving compulsions long associated with OCD may spring from unique, previously unrecognized neurobiological malfunctions that standard treatments do not necessarily address," said Dr. Sanjaya Saxena, lead author and director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute's OCD Research Program.

"In addition, the results emphasize the need to rethink how we categorize psychiatric disorders. Diagnosis and treatment should be driven by biology rather than symptoms. Our findings suggest that the compulsive hoarding syndrome may be a neurobiologically distinct variant of OCD," said Saxena, an associate professor-in-residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

Hoarding and saving behaviors are associated with a number of psychiatric disorders, including age-related dementia and cognitive impairment, but they are most commonly associated with OCD. An estimated 7 million to 8 million people in the United States suffer from OCD, with compulsive hoarding present in up to one-third. Compulsive hoarding is the primary source of impairment in 10 percent to 20 percent of OCD patients.

Compulsive hoarding is one of several symptom clusters associated with OCD. Others include contamination fears that lead to cleaning compulsions, aggressive and harm-related obsessions that lead to doubt and checking, and symmetry and order concerns. Each of these symptom clusters may be associated with a distinct pattern of brain activity. Standard OCD treatments, including serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications, typically are less effective in OCD patients with prominent compulsive hoarding behaviors.

The UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute study involved 62 adults: 12 with OCD who had prominent compulsive hoarding behaviors, 33 with OCD who had mild or no symptoms of hoarding, and 17 control subjects who had no OCD symptoms. The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure brain glucose metabolism, a marker of regional brain activity, in each subject and compared the results.

Upcoming studies at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute will use both PET and magnetic resonance imaging scanning to look for structural and functional abnormalities in the brains of subjects with compulsive hoarding and other types of OCD as the team seeks to further refine and understand these differences. The research team also will examine the effectiveness of newer medications that better address the unique brain activity found in subjects with compulsive hoarding behaviors.

More information about ongoing and future research at the OCD Research Program is available at (310) 794-7305.

Funding for the study was provided by grants and awards from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation, the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression, the Department of Energy, and a private donor.

Other members of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute research team included Dr. Arthur L. Brody, Karron M. Maidment, Erlyn C. Smith, Narineh Zohrabi, Elyse Katz, Stephanie K. Baker and Dr. Lewis R. Baxter Jr.

The OCD Research Program at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute conducts research on functional brain imaging, medication treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, neuropsychological deficits, genetics, and functional outcome of OCD, major depressive disorder, and OCD Spectrum Disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder and Tourette's syndrome.

The UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Online resources:

UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute: http://www.npi.ucla.edu

UCLA OCD Research Program: http://www.mentalhealth.ucla.edu/projects/anxiety/ocdresearch.htm

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA: http://www.medsch.ucla.edu


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "PET Study Finds Neurobiology Of Hoarders Differs From Other Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040603070801.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2004, June 3). PET Study Finds Neurobiology Of Hoarders Differs From Other Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040603070801.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "PET Study Finds Neurobiology Of Hoarders Differs From Other Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040603070801.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins