Science says dogs are smarter than cats. Take that, cat people

Dogs have more cortical neurons says a Vanderbilt researcher — but that doesn't necessarily mean they're smarter

Dogs have more cortical neurons says a Vanderbilt researcher — but that doesn't necessarily mean they're smarter. Reader Of The Pack via Flickr

"Its brain is 10 times larger than a cat's, but has about the same number of neurons".

Dogs, for instance, have more cortical neurons (530 million) than cats (250 million), but also have more neurons than bears, who have larger sized brains.

Grey matter in brains, which is responsible for thinking, planning and other complex behaviour - all indicators of intelligence, was compared between the two species and the actual number of neurons in their cerebral cortex was calculated by researchers for a study conducted at Vanderbilt University. The research was accepted this week for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

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. For instance, a study published in 2015 which focused on brain size, found that cats have 300 million neurons, doubling dogs' 160 million.

The study found that these carnivores don't necessarily have more neurons per brain size than herbivores, so prey need just as many brain cells to escape capture as predators do.

The paper also noted that raccoons have about the same number of neurons as dogs, even though their brains are the same size as cats.

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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.

"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.

The human brain contains approximately 16 billion cortical neurons, and almost 100 billion neurons in the brain overall.

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Herculano-Houzel said that studying the brains of different species is important.

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