Study Finds Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats (or More Neurons!)
29 November, 2017
Some people claim to be dog people while others say they love only cats. Or maybe, like me, you love both! Either way, there seems to be the on-going argument about who is smarter, cats or dogs. Well, according to a new study – dogs are brainier than cats.
A new study found that dogs actually have more neurons than cats
The first study to actually count the number of cortical neurons in the brains of several carnivores, including cats and dogs, has found that dogs have significantly more neurons than cats. The neurons, located in the cerebral cortex also called the “little gray cells” are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior, all benchmarks of intelligence.
The study compared different carnivores to see how neurons affected brain size
The study’s focus was to compare different species to see how the numbers of neurons in their brains related to the size of their brains, including our favorite cats and dogs, as wells as lions and brown bears. Associate Professor of Psychology and Biological Sciences Suzana Herculano-Houzel at Vanderbilt University, developed the method for accurately measuring the number of neurons in brains.
Herculano-Houzel and her collaborators—picked carnivores to study because of their diversity and large range of brain sizes as well as the fact that they include both domesticated and wild species.
The study “Dogs Have the Most Neurons” but not the largest brains found dogs have more than twice the neurons than cats
The results of the study are described in a paper titled “Dogs have the most neurons, though not the largest brain” found the following:
As far as dogs and cats, the study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million. (That compares to 16 billion in the human brain.) Herulano-Houzel believes that the number of neurons an animal has, especially 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.
She also believes, based on the study, dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can. Or maybe she is just biased, but you can’t argue the physiology!
So there you have it … there is now some biological evidence that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs! Of course, each dog and cat is different, but you can’t argue with the physiology of the brain! I suspect, though, the argument of whether dogs are smarter than cats is far from over!
You can read the whole study provided by Vanderbilt University here:
For other studies just like this one: