New research in the long-running debate regarding the intellectual superiority between canines and felines suggests it is man’s best friend that reigns supreme.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel, an Associate Professor of Psychology and Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, developed a method for accurately measuring the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of the brain. Neurons are the “little grey cells” that are associated with things like planning, thinking and complex behavior.
The general consensus is that a higher neuron count translates to higher levels of intelligence.
In the study, researchers compared different species of mammals to see how the number of neurons in their brains related to the size of their brains. What they found is that dogs have around 530 million cortical neurons in their brains versus just 250 million for cats (for comparison, humans have around 16 billion).
Herculano-Houzel said she believes the number of neurons an animal has 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.
The findings, she said, tell her that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.
In other words, dogs are smarter than cats.
I’m a cat lover at heart but will be the first to admit that canines are generally more intelligent than felines. The things that you can train a dog to do are pretty incredible. Cats? You’re lucky if they respond at all to your voice.
Those interested in learning more are encouraged to check out the results of the study in a 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” in the open access journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.