March 18, 2018

New Study Finds Dogs Are Brainier Than Cats

04 December 2017, 08:53 | Lena Norman

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Vanderbilt study determines dogs may be smarter than cats

The study was based on a new method for accurate measurement of the number of neurons in the brain, was developed by Susan Gerbino-Housel associate Professor of psychology and biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University.

The study was funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation; the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fund at Randolph-Macon College; the Vice Deanship of Research Chairs at the King Saud University; the National Research Foundation of South Africa; and Brazilian crowdfunding contributors. From there, she said, you end up with a number of suspended nuclei from neuron cells that allow the researchers to estimate the number of neurons present.

What the researchers did is take brain matter and essentially turn it into soup.

For comparison, humans have by far the highest number of neurons in our cerebral cortexes-as many as 16 billion per person.

Dogs, the study found, have about 530 million of these cortical neurons, while cats have around 250 million.

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For the first time, scientists at Vanderbilt University counted the number of cortical neurons in the brains of both cats and dogs, and found that dogs have almost twice the amount of neurons compared to cats, ABC News reports. After all, what good is all that brain power if dogs still drink out of the toilet?

Researchers also looked at the brains of a ferret, mongoose, hyena, lion, brown bear and raccoon - which they called an "outlier", packing the same amount of neurons as a dog into the brain a size of a cats. That may help them wield their hefty trunks.

Until recently, scientists interested in comparing intelligence across species were limited to using brain size as an indicator.

Now, after counting the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of a range of carnivores, there's finally something in the way of conclusive evidence about which animal has more capacity for intelligence, and it's dogs. "You can have animals with similar-sized brains, and they have completely different numbers of neurons". Score one for Team Dog!

Lead Image: Brewster, the akita/pitbull mix, smiles for the camera.

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