Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

Research suggests dogs are brainier than cats

Research suggests dogs are brainier than cats

It's official, scientists have confirmed that dogs are smarter than cats after literally counting the individual neurons in their brain and finding they have "significantly more". We also find that raccoons have dog-like numbers of neurons in their cat-sized brain, which makes them comparable to primates in neuronal density.

As a side note, humans have 16 billion neurons in their brains. Those little gray cells are in charge of thinking, planning and complex behavior and are considered a marker of intelligence in animals.

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".

For example, researchers found that the brain of a brown bear, while 10 times as large as a cat's, has roughly the same number of neurons.

For the new study, the researchers analysed the brains of ferrets, mongoose, raccoons, cats, dogs, hyenas, lions and brown bears. However, the researchers also discovered that brown bears had almost as many neurons as cats, despite being significantly bigger in size in comparison.

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"I would bet money on a large dog over a cat any time", Herculano-Houzel said in a Vanderbilt-produced video. As a effect, the quantity of meat that large hunters can kill and consume and the intermittent nature of feeding appears to limit their brain development.

The team were working on the theory that domesticated animals have smaller brains than their wild cousins, and that carnivores have bigger brains than herbivores.

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. But researchers still can't be sure whether dogs are using that capability to its full potential.

According to the neuroscientist, studying the brains of different species teaches an important lesson: "Diversity is enormous".

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