Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function

Daniel J. Horschler, Brian Hare, Josep Call, Juliane Kaminski, A. Miklósi, Evan L. MacLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Cognition
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

breed differences
Executive Function
dog breeds
brain
Dogs
cognition
Brain
primate
Cognition
Primates
Neuroanatomy
breeds
relatedness
genetic relationships
Weights and Measures
dogs
intraspecific variation
purebreds
Short-Term Memory
interspecific variation

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function. / Horschler, Daniel J.; Hare, Brian; Call, Josep; Kaminski, Juliane; Miklósi, A.; MacLean, Evan L.

In: Animal Cognition, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Horschler, Daniel J. ; Hare, Brian ; Call, Josep ; Kaminski, Juliane ; Miklósi, A. ; MacLean, Evan L. / Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function. In: Animal Cognition. 2019.
@article{3c4852b6bacc4b6a859889f38ddbeaf4,
title = "Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function",
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.",
keywords = "Brain evolution, Brain size, Breed differences, Citizen science, Cognitive evolution, Executive function",
author = "Horschler, {Daniel J.} and Brian Hare and Josep Call and Juliane Kaminski and A. Mikl{\'o}si and MacLean, {Evan L.}",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s10071-018-01234-1",
language = "English",
journal = "Animal Cognition",
issn = "1435-9448",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Absolute brain size predicts dog breed differences in executive function

AU - Horschler, Daniel J.

AU - Hare, Brian

AU - Call, Josep

AU - Kaminski, Juliane

AU - Miklósi, A.

AU - MacLean, Evan L.

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - Brain evolution

KW - Brain size

KW - Breed differences

KW - Citizen science

KW - Cognitive evolution

KW - Executive function

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85059667263&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85059667263&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s10071-018-01234-1

DO - 10.1007/s10071-018-01234-1

M3 - Article

JO - Animal Cognition

JF - Animal Cognition

SN - 1435-9448

ER -