Vanderbilt Study Finds Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Scientists counted the number of neurons or brain cells in the brains of a variety of carnivores and found that dogs' brains have more than twice the number of neurons as cats' brains.

"One reason why dogs may have more neurons in their brains than cats may be because they are social animals", she said. It concluded that dogs have more neurons in their cerebral cortex, allowing them to complete more complex tasks.

"Raccoons were the huge surprise", Herculano-Houzel said.

She noted that the dogs and cat used in the study had died of natural causes and their bodies were donated to science. New research* out of Vanderbilt suggests it may be the latter.

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.

The study, first of its kind, according to the university, centered around counting the number of cortical neurons in the brains of several carnivores from ferrets and raccoons to cats, dogs, lions and brown bears.

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She says the higher the number of neurons an animal has, the greater their ability to, in her words, "predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience".

"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.

They might chew your shoes, occasionally pee on the rug, or snarf down your entire dinner the minute you turn your head, but it turns out your family dog is measurably smarter than your cat.

The study examined and compared the size of their brains. Another oddity is the bear - its brain is about 10 times larger than a cats, but has a similar amount of neurons.

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

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