Segner, Helmut (2016) Why babies do not feel pain, or: How structure-derived functional interpretations can go wrong. Animal Sentience 3(26)
Brian Key, Why fish do not feel pain
The response to pain involves a non-conscious, reflexive action and a conscious perception. According to Key (2016), consciousness — and thus pain perception — depends on a neuronal correlate that has a “unique neural architecture” as realized in the human cortex. On the basis of the “bioengineering principle that structure determines function,” Key (2016) concludes that animal species such as fish, which lack the requisite cortex-like neuroanatomical structure, are unable to feel pain. This commentary argues that the relationship between brain structure and brain function is less straightforward than suggested in Key’s target article.