Animal Sentience

Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


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


Klein & Barron's review of recent insect neurobiology helps correct the impression that insect behavior is orchestrated without the benefit of central integrative mechanisms. Given their existence, the authors go on to ask whether these central mechanisms also feature the kind of integrative operations that support sentience, and propose that they do. Along the way they raise a number of conceptual and evidentiary issues of fundamental importance for the neuroscience of consciousness, allowing me to comment favorably on a number of them. I conclude by pointing to ways in which the conception of insect sentience they outline might be tested empirically.

Author Biography

Bjorn Merker is a neuroscientist with longstanding interest in brain mechanisms of consciousness: He has worked on subcortical mechanisms of orienting behavior in rodents and cats, mirror self-recognition in gibbons, and structural principles intrinsic to the neural organization of a conscious state. Fjälkestadsv. 410-82, SE-29194 Kristianstad, Sweden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Björn_Merker