London - Can’t bear to throw things away? Then your brain may work differently from everyone else’s.

A study shows that those with “hoarding disorder” have abnormal activity in regions of the brain involved in decision making, particularly in what to do with objects that belong to them.

Hoarders not only collect too many things, they feel unable to throw them out even if they’re useless.

The US study shows for the first time that a particular brain region becomes overactive when hoarders are asked to dispose of their possessions. But the region is underactive when they are asked what to do about items not belonging to them.

The study suggests hoarding disorder exists in its own right and is not, as doctors have long thought, just a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Up to three million Britons are believed to have hoarding disorder, which some dismiss as laziness or untidiness.

They often live surrounded by growing piles of objects and are paralysed by anxiety about dealing with the problem.

Researcher Dr David Tolin, of the Institute Of Living in Connecticut, said hoarders tend to get stuck in the decision-making process.

“Their brain goes into overdrive – specifically, those parts that are involved with identifying the relative importance or significance of things,” he said.

There is a “subjective sense that the wrong decision is being made”, said Dr Tolin, whose results are published in the journal Archives Of General Psychiatry. - Daily Mail