HOUSTON – Dog lovers and cat lovers certainly have their own opinions about the intelligence of their four-legged friends, but a recent study has numbers to contribute to the debate.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University studied the brains of several carnivorous species, specifically the number of neurons in each sample’s cerebral cortex. Neurons are basically the cells that transmit and receive impulses, and are commonly associated with thinking and complex behavior.
The study found that dogs possess significantly more neurons than cats. In fact, scientists said that dogs have about 530 million of them compared to the 250 million found in cats. There are about 16 billion found in the human brain.
“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, an associated professor of psychology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt.
However, one of the authors of the study said that the numbers only mean that dogs have the capability of doing more complex things than cats, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are smarter.
“At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs,” Herculano-Houzel said.
So, while the debate may not have been settled the back-and-forth between canine and feline fans, they certainly have some scientific data to consider.