Hoarding study receives BA Leverhulme backing

Published: 16 March 2016 at 09:00

Scrabble tiles spelling out A D H D

Funding boost for two new research projects led by Anglia Ruskin psychologists

Two innovative Anglia Ruskin University psychology studies have received backing in the form of BA Leverhulme Small Research Grants.

Organised by the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences, the grants have been awarded to Dr Sharon Morein-Zamir and Dr Flavia Cardini.

Dr Morein-Zamir, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin, is investigating a possible connection between people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and compulsive hoarding.

ADHD, a developmental disorder characterised by inattention and impulsivity, is found in around 5% of the population.  Compulsive hoarders often demonstrate increased impulsivity and attentional and organisational problems, suggesting a link between hoarding and ADHD. 

Dr Morein-Zamir said: 
“Excessive acquisition and accumulation of material possessions is pervasive in modern societies.  At the extreme end of such behaviours lie those suffering from compulsive hoarding. 

“Crucially, the characteristics and frequency of hoarding behaviours in ADHD populations has never been examined.  Preliminary evidence from our previous research suggests hoarding behaviours are surprisingly commonplace in individuals with ADHD but are not reported unless patients are explicitly questioned. 

“This research will ascertain the nature, frequency and severity of hoarding behaviours in adults with ADHD, with results having implications for improved treatment and diagnosis.”

Meanwhile, Dr Flavia Cardini, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, has received BA Leverhulme funding to conduct research into the “plastic brain”.  

It is known that the most efficient way to acquire new sensory and motor skills is through physical practice, as this helps the brain to reorganise or strengthen internal connections.  The new study will investigate the extent to which these skills can be improved by observing actions. 

Dr Cardini said: 


“Neuroscientists have found that when we observe an action, we unconsciously simulate it in brain regions activated when we execute the same action.  Our project aims to test whether if, by facilitating brain simulation of a seen action, physical performance improves. 

“This study will contribute to research aimed at identifying new training strategies for skilled performances in healthy people, for example sportsmen and women, and rehabilitative programs to restore sensorimotor functions in brain-damaged patients.”