Dogs Really May Be Smarter Than Cats, Study Suggests
Dec 04 2017 by Kathy Alvarado
If an animal has more of these neurons, it would follow that they would be able to engage in more of these activities, so the study-for the first time ever-counted the number of these neurons in the brains of several animals. "They have a fairly small brain but they have as many neurons as you would expect to find in a primate ... and that's a lot of neurons".
Researchers at Vanderbilt chose to put the age old debate to the test objectively, studying the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of animals.
The study was funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation; the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fund at Randolph-Macon College; the Vice Deanship of Research Chairs at the King Saud University; the National Research Foundation of South Africa; and Brazilian crowdfunding contributors. The study looked at relative brain sizes in different types of carnivores to determine the tradeoffs between body mass and brain power.
To make her results-yielding "brain soup", as she calls it, the research team used only a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, the crinkly outer layer that sits on top of the brain's other pieces. For comparison, in humans, cortical neurons, about 16 billion.
Dogs, the study found, have about 530 million of these cortical neurons, while cats have around 250 million. Two brains were used to study dogs because the canines vary so greatly in size.
The good news for cat lovers is that cats have about the same number of those neurons as bears even though a bear's brain is about ten times larger. And so, the more neurons an animal has, the better its information processing capability, these scientists say.
It's always been an epic debate between dog and cat owners, but it seems there is a clear victor.
Previous and sometimes controversial work to quantify intelligence has measured brain size and structural complexity. Herculano-Houzel did clarify that she is "100% a dog person".
Lead Image: Brewster, the akita/pitbull mix, smiles for the camera.