Published: Mon, December 04, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Dogs Really May Be Smarter Than Cats, Study Suggests

Dogs Really May Be Smarter Than Cats, Study Suggests

The research is due for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

The study was based on a new method for accurate measurement of the number of neurons in the brain, was developed by Susan Gerbino-Housel associate Professor of psychology and biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University.

A new study provided by Vanderbilt University to phys.org found that dogs have significantly more cortical neurons, the "little gray cells" associated with thinking, planning, and complex behavior.

Dogs, it turns out, have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than what cats have, which suggests they could be about twice as intelligent.

"Meat eating is largely considered a problem-solver in terms of energy, but, in retrospect, it is clear that carnivory must impose a delicate balance between how much brain and body a species can afford", said Herculano-Houzel. There appeared to be discrepancies when it came to neurons and cortex size, the study also found.


"You take the brain and turn it into a soup", she said, matter-of-factly, as the first step to finding these neurons. Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together. For comparison, humans have twice the cortical neurons that gorillas have. After all, what good is all that brain power if dogs still drink out of the toilet?

In each of the dogs' brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat's brain.

When they looked at a 64-pound golden retriever, the count was even higher: 627 million neurons. "At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who's smarter, cats or dogs".

The study looks at cortical neurons, the cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors that act as a measurement of intelligence, Vanderbilt's research arm wrote in a November 29 blog post.

Previous and sometimes controversial work to quantify intelligence has measured brain size and structural complexity. Score one for Team Cat!

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