The Way You Pack Reveals A Lot About Your Cognitive Health

Suitcase Image

You can learn a lot about your cognitive health by how you pack a suitcase, according to a recent study by CogniFit.  To learn more about brain function and how to break down the aging process, they compared cognitive performance when packing.  The study featured participants from the U.S. and European countries and investigated the 14 cognitive skills we use when we pack our suitcase, such as:  contextualized memory, hand-eye coordination, inhibition, planning, divided attention, shifting, updating, working memory, visual perception and short term memory.

Our cognitive abilities depend on the strength of our neural network. When neurons are activated simultaneously, their connections tend be strengthened, leading to better cognitive skills. Thus, we become more efficient at performing a particular task.

The data collected during the study revealed several surprising results.  The study showed that the cognitive skills involved in packing are 5.7% higher in men vs women.  The country with the best cognitive results across all aging segments is Germany. The United States only comes in fourth behind Spain and England.  People between the ages of 18-24 are at their peak performance. Then, cognitive skills gradually decline.

What type of packer are you? Are you an organized packer? A last-minute packer? Planning is an important skill to have when packing. Men consistently scored higher than women in terms of planning. This does not mean that men start planning well before women, but they are more efficient than women, regardless of the age group. It seems that men are more selective and have a better understanding of what they need when they travel. On the contrary, women seem to plan for unrealistic scenarios full of what-ifs: "What if I go horseback riding? What if we go out to fancy dinners eight nights in a row? What if I go running and walking? Surely, I'll need two sets of sneakers." These hypothetical scenarios can lead to an entire closet's worth of items taking up residence in a suitcase

Do you fold your clothes or do you roll them because you read somewhere that rolling your clothes avoids a wrinkled wardrobe and saves space? Hand-eye coordination is the ability to track the movements of the hands with the eyes, thus enabling the eyes to send important signals to the brain about hand movement. Good hand-eye coordination is important when folding or rolling clothes in an empty suitcase to save space. Here again men show better hand-eye coordination than women.

Have you ever unzipped your suitcase at the last minute to remove half of your wardrobe and lighten your load? Inhibition is the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli or suppress irrelevant reactions while performing a task. For this specific cognitive skill, men and women showed to be equals during the study.

The good news is that thanks to neuroplasticity, we can improve our skills and mental sharpness. Boosting the brainpower with a mind exercises helps make new neural connections, enhance brain performance, and postpone age-related cognitive decline.

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