Brown bears have larger brains, but only about as many neurons as cats.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that dogs have 530 million neurons in their cerebral cortex, while cats have only half that amount, or around 250 million.
A new study by Vanderbilt University researchers proves beyond a biological doubt that a dog's cerebral cortex contains more than twice the neurons of a cat's brain. The research was accepted this week for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
Cortical neurons in the brain aka "little gray cells", are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior.
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The study also found that even though raccoons have brains the size of cats - they have the same number of neurons as a dog.
The study was hinged on the hypothesis that carnivores had to have more cortical neurons, meaning, they had to be smarter than herbivores. An interesting 2010 Oxford University study suggests highly social animals need more brain power than ones that live more solitary lives.
In fact, for the largest carnivorans the neuron-to-brain-size ratio is actually lower. The bear is an extreme example. And bears, despite their big brains, have about the same number of neurons as cats do.
Houzel said she is "100 percent a dog person".
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Hunting requires a lot of energy, particularly for large predators, and the intervals between successful kills are unpredictable. In terms of energy, the brain is the most expensive organ in the body and its requirements are proportional to the number of neurons. As a effect, the quantity of meat that large hunters can kill and consume and the intermittent nature of feeding appears to limit their brain development.
An worldwide team of scientists studied a variety of furry critters and discovered dogs have more neurons in an important part of the brain than cats.
The study also found that raccoons are an outlier.
On the other hand, this adds fuel to the fire for dog people, who have long said that dogs are smarter than cats.
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More on the study can be found in the video below. "Not every species is made the same way".