Study finds dogs have more smarts than cats

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It has to do with their brains, specifically the number of neurons in their cerebral cortex: the "little gray cells" associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior -all considered hallmarks of intelligence.

Let the cat vs dog battle rage on.

But, a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University has found that dogs may be smarter than cats.

That makes dogs, dare we say, smarter than cats.

According to researchers, dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, compared to cats which just have about 250 million.

"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.

Getty Images  Image SourceA kitten and a puppy play together on a lawn in this undated
Getty Images Image SourceA kitten and a puppy play together on a lawn in this undated

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.

Herculano-Houzel also studied the brains of a ferret, mongoose, raccoon, hyena, lion and brown bear.

That means that it may take as much brain power to avoid being caught as it does to do the catching. A 2010 study from Oxford University claimed that dogs' brains are continually evolving while cats' brains haven't changed since they were domesticated about 8,000 years ago. After their evaluation, they found out that animals who had larger brains also tended to have more neurone than the smaller one.

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

Researchers discovered that many animals with the largest brains have the lowest neurons. Another oddity is the bear - its brain is about 10 times larger than a cats, but has a similar amount of neurons.

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