"I believe that the absolute number of neurons possessed by the animal, especially in the cortex, determines the richness of their inner mental state and their ability to predict a situation based on past experience,"says Hermano-Hotel".
That's the conclusion of an worldwide team of researchers, who found that dogs possess twice the number of neurons than cats.
The study also found that brain size has little relationship to intelligence.
In each of the dogs' brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat's brain.
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You've always known it to be true but you never had proof, until now: A new study has determined that dogs are in fact more intelligent than cats.
The research is due for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
The study was conducted by researchers from six universities in the US, Brazil, Denmark and South Africa. Humans, by comparison, have around 16 billion.
"In 2005, my lab developed a very simple, fast and low-priced method to count cells in brains and brain parts", Herculano-Houzel said. While different parts of the brain process outside stimuli like sight and touch, the cerebral cortex puts these stimuli together to drive decision-making and problem-solving, among other functions. "At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who's smarter, cats or dogs".
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Herculano-Houzel argues that counting neurons is just one, albeit in her opinion the most effective to date, way to measure intelligence.
They found that the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear - even though the bigger predators have brains up to three times as large.
One of the key questions the study hoped to answer was whether carnivores have more brain neurons than the herbivorous species they prey upon, with the researchers hypothesising that they should because hunting is cognitively more demanding.
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