Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 3/01/20)

Author(s)

Daniel J. Horschler, Brian Hare, Josep Call, Juliane Kaminski, Adam Miklosi, Evan L. MacLean

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Large-scale phylogenetic studies of animal cognition have revealed robust links between absolute brain volume and species differences in executive function. However, past comparative samples have been composed largely of primates, which are characterized by evolutionarily derived neural scaling rules. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether positive associations between brain volume and executive function reflect a broad-scale evolutionary phenomenon, or alternatively, a unique consequence of primate brain evolution. Domestic dogs provide a powerful opportunity for investigating this question due to their close genetic relatedness, but vast intraspecific variation. Using citizen science data on more than 7000 purebred dogs from 74 breeds, and controlling for genetic relatedness between breeds, we identify strong relationships between estimated absolute brain weight and breed differences in cognition. Specifically, larger-brained breeds performed significantly better on measures of short-term memory and self-control. However, the relationships between estimated brain weight and other cognitive measures varied widely, supporting domain-specific accounts of cognitive evolution. Our results suggest that evolutionary increases in brain size are positively associated with taxonomic differences in executive function, even in the absence of primate-like neuroanatomy. These findings also suggest that variation between dog breeds may present a powerful model for investigating correlated changes in neuroanatomy and cognition among closely related taxa.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date3 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • Cognitive evolution, Brain evolution, Brain size, Executive function, Breed differences, Citizen science

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Theory of mind in animals: current and future directions

    Krupenye, C. & Call, J., 17 May 2019, In : Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science. Early View, e1503.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Language origins viewed in spontaneous and interactive vocal rates of human and bonobo infants

    Oller, D. K., Griebel, U., Iyer, S. N., Jhang, Y., Warlaumont, A. S., Dale, R. & Call, J., 2 Apr 2019, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 10, 18 p., 729.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Long-term memory of past events in great apes

    Lewis, A. V. M., Berntsen, D. & Call, J., 1 Apr 2019, In : Current Directions in Psychological Science. 28, 2, p. 117-123 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. How prior experience and task presentation modulate innovation in 6-year-old-children

    Ebel, S. J., Hanus, D. & Call, J., Apr 2019, In : Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 180, p. 87-103 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Orangutans (Pongo abelii) make flexible decisions relative to reward quality and tool functionality in a multi-dimensional tool-use task

    Laumer, I. B., Auersperg, A. M. I., Bugnyar, T. & Call, J., 13 Feb 2019, In : PLoS ONE. 14, 2, 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    1 Jan 201831 Dec 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    1 Jan 201731 Dec 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Susan Denise Healy (Member of editorial board)
    2015 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Josep Call (Member of editorial board)
    2006 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  5. Animal Cognition (Journal)

    Vincent Janik (Member of editorial board)
    2004 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Social learning about construction behaviour via an artefact

    Breen, A. J., Bonneaud, C. C., Healy, S. D. & Guillette, L. M., May 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 3, p. 305–315 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Stereotypic horses (Equus caballus) are not cognitively impaired

    Briefer Freymond, S., Ruet, A., Grivaz, M., Fuentes, C., Zuberbühler, K., Bachmann, I. & Briefer, E. F., Jan 2019, In : Animal Cognition. 22, 1, p. 17-33 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. A gestural repertoire of 1-2year old human children: in search of the ape gestures

    Kersken, V. A., Gómez, J-C., Liszkowski, U., Soldati, A. & Hobaiter, C., 8 Sep 2018, In : Animal Cognition. In press, 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

  4. Chimpanzees demonstrate individual differences in social information use

    Watson, S. K., Vale, G. L., Hopper, L. M., Dean, L. G., Kendal, R. L., Price, E. E., Wood, L. A., Davis, S. J., Schapiro, S. J., Lambeth, S. P. & Whiten, A., 19 Jun 2018, In : Animal Cognition. In press, 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 257948064