Animal consciousness: A synthetic approach

Document Type: 
Article
Article Type: 
Review
Disciplines: 
Neuroscience
Topics: 
Animal Cognition
Keywords: 
accurate report, animal consciousness, birds, cephalopods, explanatory correlates, higher-order consciousness, octopus, primary consciousness
Deposited by: 
David B Edelman and Anil K. Seth
Contact email: 
david_edelman@nsi.edu
Date of Issue: 
2009
Authors: 
David B. Edelman, Anil Seth
Journal/Publication Title: 
Trends in Neurosciences
Volume: 
32
Issue Number: 
9
Page Range: 
476-484
Number of Pages: 
9
Publisher: 
Cell Press
Place of Publication: 
Cambridge, MA
ISBN: 
0166-2236
Official URL: 
http://www.cell.com/trends/neurosciences/issue?pii=S0166-2236%2809%29X0009-3
Publish status: 
Published
Abstract: 
Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting conscious states in a variety of non-human animals, no systematic neuroscientific investigation of animal consciousness has yet been undertaken. We set forth a framework for such an investigation that incorporates integration of data from neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and behavioral studies, uses evidence from humans as a benchmark, and recognizes the critical role of explicit verbal report of conscious experiences in human studies. We illustrate our framework with reference to two subphyla: one relatively near to mammals – birds – and one quite far – cephalopod molluscs. Consistent with the possibility of conscious states, both subphyla exhibit complex behavior and possess sophisticated nervous systems. Their further investigation may reveal common phyletic conditions and neural substrates underlying the emergence of animal consciousness.
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