If you’re a pet owner, you may have participated in the age-old debate about who is smarter: cats or dogs? Everyone has their preference, of course. Dog lovers cite their companions’ ability to be trained and loyalty as proof of their overall superiority. Cat lovers argue that cats can be trained, but are simply too smart and independent to be bothered with it! In the end, both sides usually have ample reasoning behind their opinions and so the debate continues.
At Vanderbilt University, however, researchers are taking a different approach at settling this debate once and for all. According to a recent ABC News article, Vanderbilt University has discovered that dogs have 530 million neurons in their cerebral cortex while cats only have 250 million. Score one for Team Dog!
According to Suzana Herculano-Houzel (self proclaimed dog-lover), neurons are the brain’s information processing super computer. The more neurons the brain contains, the faster that processor is and the brain has the capacity for more complex behaviors, pattern recognition and the ability to make decisions based on past experiences or future perceptions. For comparison, humans have twice the cortical neurons that gorillas have.
It also appears that brain size doesn’t matter as much as neuron count. Herculano-Houzel and her team studied several species including ferrets, raccoons, lions, striped hyenas and bears. A brown bear has a cerebral cortex three times the size of a golden retriever, but the golden retriever has more neurons.
So while a scientific study on neurons might suggest that dogs have a higher capacity for processing than cats, it is not likely to take any of the wind out of the sails of cat lovers. After all, what good is all that brain power if dogs still drink out of the toilet? Score one for Team Cat!
For a look at the full article, so you can decide for yourself what this means for your side of the debate, follow the link below.