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An evaluation of current perspectives on consciousness and pain in fishes
Chandroo, K.P.; Yue, S.; Moccia, R.D. (2004). An evaluation of current perspectives on consciousness and pain in fishes. Fish Fish. 5(4): 281-295.
In: Fish and Fisheries. Blackwell Science: Oxford. ISSN 1467-2960, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Consciousness; Fishes; Pain sensitivity

Authors  Top 
  • Chandroo, K.P.
  • Yue, S.
  • Moccia, R.D.

    There is growing societal and scientific interest in the welfare status of fish used for commercial enterprise. As animal welfare is primarily concerned with the quality of life of a conscious, sentient organism, the question of whether fishes are even capable of consciousness must first be addressed in order to assess their welfare status. Recently, there has been a resurgence of research investigating the biological basis for human consciousness, and our current understanding of the cognitive mechanisms underlying fish behaviour has likewise improved significantly. Combined, these research perspectives create an opportunity to better comprehend the phylogeny of traits associated with consciousness, as well as the emergence of consciousness itself during vertebrate evolution. Despite the availability of this literature, contemporary reviews or published studies investigating the probability of conscious states occurring in fishes often do so without considering new perspectives or data. In this paper, we review and critique recent publications that report equivocal conclusions favouring the absence or presence of consciousness in various fishes. By introducing other data into these analyses, we demonstrate that there are alternative perspectives which support the existence of consciousness in fishes as a plausible concept. An accurate assessment of the mental capacity of fishes will require enhanced knowledge of their forebrain neuroanatomy, an understanding of how such structures mediate behavioural responses, and an analysis of that information within the context of contemporary theory related to the evolution of consciousness in higher vertebrates.

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