(WSVN) - Which household pet carries the most intelligence? New research suggests that dogs are smarter than cats.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that there are more than twice the amount of neurons in a dog’s brain than a cat’s.
Neurons are cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors – all what university researchers called “hallmarks of intelligence.”
The study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, while cats have approximately 250 million. For comparison, human brains have 16 billion.
“I believe the absolute 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,” explained Associate Professor Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a neuroscientist with the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.
“I’m 100 percent a dog person, but with that disclaimer, our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can,” she said. “At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs.”
The team also looked at other animals, including ferrets, raccoons, hyenas, lions, and brown bears. Despite the larger animals having brains up to three times the size of a golden retriever, the scientists discovered the dog had more neurons.
They also noted that the bear’s brain is 10 times larger than a cat’s, yet has the same amount of neurons.
“Raccoons are not your typical carnivoran,” Herculano-Houzel said. “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.”
Among their other discoveries during the study, the researchers found that raccoons in particular are quite smart, packing the same number of neurons that a dog has even though its brain size is about the same as a cat’s brain.
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