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Animal Sentience

Abstract

In my target article, I argued that the brains of ray-finned fishes of the teleost subclass (Actinopterygii) are sufficiently complex to support sentience — that these fishes have subjective awareness of interoceptive and exteroceptive sense experience. Extending previous theories centered on the tectum, I focused on the organization of the fish pallium. In this Response to the commentaries, I clarify that I do not propose that the fish pallium is, or must be, homologous to the mammalian neocortex to play a role in sentience. Some form of a functionalist approach to explaining the neural basis of sentience across taxa is probably most appropriate. However, what is known about the neural correlates of consciousness in humans is adequate to provide a starting place for investigation of the correlates of sentience in other animals, including fishes. Ultimately, though, hypotheses and experiments to evaluate anatomical and physiological correlates specific to sentience in fishes will be necessary.

Author Biography

Michael L. Woodruff is Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences and of Psychology at East Tennessee State University. Author of more than 120 professional publications, his research interests include cognitive neuroscience and the philosophy of mind. www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Woodruff3/info

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