Dogs are more intelligent than cats, neuron-counting study concludes
01 December, 2017, 05:42 | Author: Wilson Dawson
A new study by Vanderbilt University researchers proves beyond a biological doubt that a dog's cerebral cortex contains more than twice the neurons of a cat's brain.
Herculano-Houzel herself admits that, while the study was objective, she herself does have a bit of a bias.
The study said that the carnivorans were of special interest as they generally outsmart their prey to survive, therefore, they potentially had a higher number of neurone than their prey, which means they probably had higher intelligence. And raccoons? They're scary smart - despite having a brain the size of a cat, they have the same cortical neurons as a dog or a primate.
"We did not study their behavior, so we can not (and do not) make any claims about how intelligent they are", researcher Suzana Herculano-Houzel, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University, told HuffPost in an email.
Herculano-Houzel said she believes the number of neurons an animal has in the cerebral cortex determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience. Maybe it's just that cats are smart about cat things and dogs are smart about dog things.
In other words, she said, the study suggests that dogs have the "biological capability" for more complex and flexible behavior than cats.
The researchers published their findings this week in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy under the title "Dogs have the most neurons, though not the largest brain: Trade-off between body mass and number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of large carnivoran species". However, the researchers also discovered that brown bears had almost as many neurons as cats, despite being significantly bigger in size in comparison.
They also found that the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear, even though the bigger predators have brains up to three times as large. Another oddity is the bear - its brain is about 10 times larger than a cats, but has a similar amount of neurons. "Diversity is enormous. Not every species is made the same way".
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