Dogs are more intelligent than cats, Vanderbilt study shows

Study finds dogs have over twice the cortical neurons that cats have

(Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Those who think dogs are smarter than cats may be onto something, after all.

A new study from Vanderbilt University indicates there's some truth behind that. It found the number of cortical neurons, or brain cells widely associated with thinking and planning, is significantly greater in canines than their feline counterparts.

In fact, the study showed dogs have more than twice the number of cortical neurons as cats. Specifically, dogs have roughly 530 million of them compared to 250 million among cats. For what it's worth, there are 16 billion found in the human brain.

"In this study, we were interested in comparing different specifies of carnivorans to see how the numbers of neurons in their brains relate to the size of their brains," said Suzana Herculano-Houzel, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences.

She detailed those findings in a research paper, titled "Dogs have the most neurons, though not the largest brain: Trade-off between body mass and number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of large carnivoran species," which has been OK'd for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

Herculano-Houzel stated it's her belief that the number of neurons an animal has, particularly those housed within the cerebral cortex, speaks to the richness of their "internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience."

It's worth noting that the professor describes herself as a "dog person." 

“I would bet money on a large dog over a cat any time,” Herculano-Houzel said. “They have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”

So, what do you think?


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