It’s unclear how neurons relate to intelligence, exactly.
The macaw has a brain the size of an unshelled walnut, while the macaque monkey has a brain about the size of a lemon. Nevertheless, the macaw has more neurons in its forebrain — the portion of the brain associated with intelligent behavior — than the macaque.
That is one of the surprising results of the first study to systematically measure the number of neurons in the brains of more than two dozen species of birds ranging in size from the tiny zebra finch to the six-foot-tall emu, which found that they consistently have more neurons packed into their small brains than are stuffed into mammalian or even primate brains of the same mass.More. Paper. (public access) – Seweryn Olkowicz, Martin Kocourek, Radek K. Lučan, Michal Porteš, W. Tecumseh Fitch, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, and Pavel Němec. Birds have primate-like numbers of neurons in the forebrain. PNAS, June 13, 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1517131113
See also: What can we hope to learn about animal minds?
Are apes entering the Stone Age?
Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds
Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?
Animal minds: In search of the minimal self
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