Science says dogs are smarter than cats

Science says dogs are smarter than cats

The study examined and compared the size of their brains.

The journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomyhas accepted a paper for publication, where it's reported that dogs' brains have more than twice as many cortical neurons than cats' brains do.

The team, working at universities and zoos around the world, counted the number of cortical neurons in eight carnivorans, a large class of mammals that have teeth and claws that allow them to eat other animals.

So when looking at dogs versus cats, "to say that it actually is smarter, more intelligent, craftier, better at solving problems or anything like that compared to a cat would actually take measuring their behavior directly, and that is a really hard thing to do", she says.

The results of the study became a trending topic on social media Thursday.

The study was carried out by counting a number of cortical neurons in eight carnivorans - that happen to be a large class of mammals having teeth and claws that allow them to eat other animals; they are not to be confused with carnivores that are exclusively meat-eating animals, including humans.

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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. For example, the brain of a golden retriever had more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear, even though the predators have brains of up to three times as large.

There's a new twist in the age-old argument over whether cats are smarter than dogs, or vice versa. She developed a way to measure the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex.

Researchers discovered that many animals with the largest brains have the lowest neurons. And bears, despite their big brains, have about the same number of neurons as cats do. The group was chosen because it has a large range of brain sizes, and includes both domesticated and wild species.

"Raccoons are not your typical carnivoran", said Herculano-Houzel. And raccoons? They're scary smart - despite having a brain the size of a cat, they have the same cortical neurons as a dog or a primate.

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

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