Study finds dogs have more smarts than cats

01 December, 2017, 05:41 | Author: Darrell Lopez
  • Experts found that dogs possess around 530 million cortical neurons while cats only have around 250 million

Researchers at Vanderbilt made a decision to put the age old debate to the test objectively, studying the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of animals.

As a side note, humans have 16 billion neurons in their brains.

Since neurons are the brain's "information-processing units", Herculano-Houzel explained, "whatever species has the most neurons in the cerebral cortex is therefore expected to be capable of more complex and flexible behavior".

She says the higher the number of neurons an animal has, the greater their ability to, in her words, "predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience".

Carnivorans stand out in that the usual relationship between larger body, larger cortical mass and larger number of cortical neurons only applies to small and medium-sized species, and not beyond dogs: we find that the golden retriever dog has more cortical neurons than the striped hyena, African lion and even brown bear, even though the latter species have up to 3 times larger cortices than dogs. And raccoons, despite their smaller brain size, had nearly as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs. It's probably the number of neurons that are residing in the brain.

The study examined and compared the size of their brains.




That means that it may take as much brain power to avoid being caught as it does to do the catching. The bear is an extreme example. "The large numbers of neurons in the small raccoon brains jives very well with how crafty/smart/resourceful these creatures are believed to be".

"I would bet money on a large dog over a cat any time", Herculano-Houzel said in a Vanderbilt-produced video.

Hunting requires a lot of energy, particularly for large predators, and the intervals between successful kills are unpredictable. It also needs energy continuously.

They also found that the size of a brain isn't connected with the number of neurons.

"Raccoons were the huge surprise", Herculano-Houzel said. "Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together-and we're trying to figure out what difference that makes".

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