Animal Sentience

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


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


Whether insects have the potential for subjective experiences depends on the definition of subjective experience. The definition used by Klein & Barron (2016) is an unusually liberal one and could be used to argue that some modern robots have subjective experiences. From an evolutionary perspective, the additional neurons needed to produce subjective experiences will be proportionately more expensive for insects than for mammals because of the small size of the insect brain. This greater cost could weaken selection for such traits. Minimally, it may be premature to assume that small neuronal number is unimportant in determining the capacity for consciousness.

Author Biography

Shelley Anne Adamo studies the interactions between behaviour and physiology in invertebrates, such as how and why animals change their behaviour due to infection and how and why immune function is influenced by factors including stress and reproduction.