A team of researchers said that the number of neurons in the dog has twice as many as the cat brains.
The answer may be one of our most contentious debates. In fact, dogs come with twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than cats. That also means dogs may be about twice as intelligent as well.
Sure, this finding will be going to publish in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy soon. A team of researchers from six different universities contributed to this research such as in the U.S, Denmark, Brazil, as well as South Africa.
Especially, one of these study’s authors has become neurologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel. The now Vanderbilt professor studied cognitive function in humans as well as animals during the past decade. For the most precise measurement, she has to count neurons found in the brain that has the purpose of transmitting messages.
According to her, you should take the brain. Then, turn it into a soup in order to find these neurons. She said we can estimate the number of neurons present thanks to the research of ending up with a lot of suspended nuclei from neuron cells.
Why use neurons?
According to Herculano-Houzel, Neurons are considered as the basic information processing units. Also, you can be able to discern the animal thanks to these units in the brain. In order to make her results-yielding brain soup, she had to use only a part of the brain that is called the cerebral cortex on the top of the brain’s other pieces. Actually, different parts of the brain process outside the stimuli such as the cerebral cortex, sight, and touch, as well as among other functions.
According to Herculano-Houzel, the cortex gives complexity and flexibility in the brains. In order to have an idea of the number of neurons dogs and cats, the team had to use three brains including one from a golden retriever, one from a cat, and one from a mixed-breed small dog. They have to use two brains because there are many different sizes of the canines.
In spite of varying in size of the dogs’ brains, there are about 500 million neurons. This is more than double the 250 million they have found in the cat’s brain.
Dog facial expressions change when humans watch them
Depending on the number of neurons found, the team speculated that dogs offer roughly the same intelligence as lions and raccoons. And, domestic cats have the same intelligence as bears. The fact is that humans include the highest number of neurons in our cerebral cortexes. In addition, orangutans and gorillas come with about eight to nine billion neurons. And, it’s about six to seven billion neurons for chimpanzees.
In fact, there are about 5.6 billion neurons in the most intelligent non-primate animals they have studied, elephants. But, they also include higher-than-typical neuron counts in the cerebellums that have the purpose of controlling motor skills. That’s why they can wield their hefty trunks.
The measure of intelligence
The researchers add scientific clout to a household debate about dogs and cats. They are considered as a larger effort in order to use neurons like one quantifiable measure of intelligence.
There are many controversial works to quantify intelligences that measured structural complexity as well as brain size.
According to Sarah Benson-Amram, a scientist at the University of Wyoming’s Animal Behavior, she has found some support in carnivorous animals that come to better problem solving. But, the fact is not that larger brain size universally will lead to higher intelligence.
Also, she said that we surely need more research on this topic if we want to definite the meaningful brain size across different animal groups. Then, we can determine a measure of intelligence thanks to it.
According to Herculano-Houzel, it’s just one when counting neurons. But, this may be considered as the most effective to date when it comes to measuring intelligence. Also, this is not your number of neurons. In fact, there are a number of animals with similar-sized brains. But, they don’t have the same numbers of neurons.
Are dogs smarter than cats?
Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that dogs are smarter than cats. As noted above, dogs include twice as many neurons as cats.
Indeed, dogs can be able to do much more flexible and complex things with their lives than cats. Moreover, dogs love their people five times more than cats, according to The Vanderbilt study conducted by researchers for a BBC documentary.
The Vanderbilt researchers also have done some research about the brains of a ferret, raccoon, mongoose, lion, hyena, and brown bear aside from dogs and cats. And, they realized that domesticated animals as cat, dog, and the ferret don’t come with a significantly different ratio of brain size compared to wild animals such as hyenas, brown bears, and lions.