CBS Local — There’s a new twist in the age-old argument over whether cats are smarter than dogs, or vice versa.
A new study provided by Vanderbilt University to phys.org found that dogs have significantly more cortical neurons, the “little gray cells” associated with thinking, planning, and complex behavior.
The official cortical count provided by the study shows dogs having about 530 million while cats have 250 million. Humans have about 16 billion.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences, developed the method of accurately measuring the number of neurons in the brains.
“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 Herculano-Houzel in the study.
The good news for cat lovers is that cats have about the same number of those neurons as bears even though a bear’s brain is about ten times larger.
The researchers analyzed the brains of other animals like lions and hyenas as well, comparing the number of neurons in their brains compared to the size of their brains.
Herculano-Houzel said that studying the brains of different species is important. “Diversity is enormous. Not every species is made the same way. Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together. And we’re trying to figure out what difference that makes.”
[H/T CBS Dallas/Ft. Worth]