NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s a debate for the ages. Who is smarter—dogs or cats?
Now we may actually have a scientific answer.
A study led by a Vanderbilt University professor counted for the first time the number of cortical neurons in the brains of cats and dogs and found that dogs possess nearly double the amount of neurons compared to cats.
Neurons are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior.
They found cats have 250 million neurons while dogs have 530 million.
“Neurons are the information-processing units in the brain, and the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that can combine information from different sources and create new associations, recognize patterns, make decisions to act differently based on past experience and start making predictions for the future,” Suzana Herculano-Houzel, the Vanderbilt professor who developed the method for measuring neurons, told ABC News.
“Whatever species has the most neurons in the cerebral cortex is therefore expected to be capable of more complex and flexible behavior, said Herculano-Houzel, who gave the disclaimer she is “100 percent a dog person.” “We humans have twice the cortical neurons that gorillas have; dogs, as we found out, have about twice the cortical neurons that cats have.”
The number of neurons in an animal also determines the “richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen … based on past experience,” researchers said.
The study also looked at several other animals and found raccoons, Tennessee’s official wild animal, have as many neurons as primates.