Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Colin Klein and Andrew B. Barron, Insects have the capacity for subjective experience


Klein & Barron (2016) propose that subjective experience in humans arises in the midbrain and then argue that insects have the capacity for subjective experience because their nervous system can perform neural processing similar to that of the midbrain. This approach ultimately fails because it is built on the false premise that the midbrain is the source of the awareness of sensory stimuli. I instead propose that the capacity for subjective experience must be based on fundamental neural computations that generate the “what it feels like” experience. Two such computations associated with metarepresentations and high level representations entering working memory are discussed as possible measures of the capacity for subjective experience.

Author Biography

Brian Key is Head of the Brain Growth and Regeneration Lab at the University of Queensland. He is dedicated to understanding the principles of stem cell biology, differentiation, axon guidance, plasticity, regeneration and development of the brain.