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A new study from Vanderbilt University had confirmed what every dog lover believes, which is that dogs are actually the more intelligent creature. It’s a bad news for people who loves other animals like cats, so Sorry to all those who insists their cat is smarter than the dog.

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The team, working at universities and zoos around the world, counted the number of cortical neurons in eight carnivorans, a large class of mammals that have teeth and claws that allow them to eat other animals.

Researchers discovered that dogs possess 530 million cortical neurons in their cerebral cortex while cats only have 250 million. (For context, humans have 16 billion.) More neurons logically means a larger capacity for thinking, planning, and complex behaviors— all hallmarks of intelligence.

The research accounted for physical brain size, assessing the number of cortical neurons against the size of the brain they can cram into. And it turns out that dogs have more sheer brainpower even than carnivorans with much larger actual brains — including African lions and brown bears.

Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Associate Professor of Psychology and Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, developed the method for accurately measuring the number of neurons in cats and dogs’ brains.

“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,” she said.

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Although she is a dog person herself, she says the findings mean dogs have “the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.” To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily mean every single dog is smarter than every single cat— just that all dogs have the potential for greater intellectual capacity.


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