DETROIT (WWJ) — A new study is looking at how compulsive hoarding isn’t an activity exclusive to adults.

The new analysis, to be conducted by Wayne State University, will focus on hoarding among young people between ages five and 30.

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Dr. David Rosenberg, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the WSU School of Medicine, is leading the study, which will involve brain scans and genetic studies to better understand the causes and best types of treatment.

“So often, 80 percent or more of all cases of compulsive hoarding have their onset and origin in childhood and adolescence,” Rosenberg said. “Tragically, it’s often not diagnosed then.”

Researchers are working to diagnose the problem earlier and start treatment before the behavior takes over a young person’s life, leading to things like fractured relationships and job loss as they mature.

Wayne State is hoping to enroll 600 people for the study, which started in 2015 and will run through 2020.

Rosenberg said the behavior in children and young adults can stem from anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or even drug or alcohol addiction.

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“Hoarding is a crisis in confidence, it’s a crisis in decision-making and a crisis in categorization,” Rosenberg said. “The person in this case — in children and adolescents — loses the ability to prioritize, to sort and have no ability to throw things out for fear that they may be discarding something precious.”

Hoarding behavior can also be attributed to “filling a void.” Holding on to “stuff” can be seen as comforting to a person who isn’t feeling satisfied with family, friends, school or work.

“Believe it or not, these objects can take on real personalities,” Rosenberg said. “You will find children, adolescents, young adults who will call the hoarded items by name. So these items that they’re hoarding — that they’re not throwing out — become like real people who they may talk with, they may have conversations with.”

Rosenberg says that hoarding behavior is definitely something that can be passed from generation to generation.

“There’s clearly a genetic predisposition,” Rosenberg said.

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For more information, or to sign up for the study contact Pamela Falarano at 313-745-4645 or