There’s a new twist to the perennial argument about which is smarter, cats or dogs.
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.
Now, scientists have an answer. Your canine friend may be more smarter than felines as their brain possesses significantly more number of neurons linked to thinking, planning and complex behaviour, a study has found.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, the little gray cells, while cats have about 250 million.
These cortical neurons in their cerebral cortex are also called as the “little gray cells” associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviour — all considered hallmarks of intelligence.
“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,” said Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Associate Professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
For the study, described in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, the team analysed the brains of one or two specimens from each of eight carnivoran species: ferret, mongoose, raccoon, cat, dog, hyena, lion and brown bear to see how the numbers of neurons in their brains relate to the size of their brains.
“Our findings showed that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can,” Herculano-Houzel added.
In addition, the researchers determined that the ratio of neurons to brain size in small-and medium-sized carnivores was about the same as that of herbivores, suggesting that there is just as much evolutionary pressure on the herbivores to develop the brain pow