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Natural World

New study claims that insects are conscious

April 27, 2016 | Comment icon 22 comments



How do insects perceive the world ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Mark Winterbourne
Scientists now believe that conscious awareness and subjective experience may be common in insects.
The notion that insects possess only a rudimentary perception of the world might soon be set to change thanks to a major new research paper published by scientists at Macquarie University.

The results of the study suggest that insects are not only conscious but also exhibit egocentric behavior - something that may have arisen over 500 million years ago in the Cambrian Period.

"When you and I are hungry, we don't just move towards food; our hunger also has a particular feeling associated with it," said study co-author and philosopher Dr Colin Klein.
"An organism has subjective experience if its mental states feel like something when they happen."

The researchers focused their studies on the midbrain, a part of the brain that supports awareness and which appears to function in a similar manner in insects as it does in humans.

That is not to say however that an insect's conscious experiences will be the same as our own.

"Their experience of the world is not as rich or as detailed as our experience – our big neocortex adds something to life !" the scientists wrote. "But it still feels like something to be a bee."

Source: ABC.net.au | Comments (22)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by bubblykiss 6 years ago
I hope that they always have awareness of their own frail mortality. It would make snuffing out their savagely foul lives that much more pleasing of an experience.
Comment icon #14 Posted by lightly 6 years ago
personally, i can't stand egotistical cockroaches, they can be so full of themselves sometimes. *actually, i really like this study, it sort of expands the idea of what "consciousness" is.
Comment icon #15 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
It is great news, we know consciousness evolved, but have been grasping at the mechanisms, some interesting studies have shown good models on how being alert for predators results in awareness of one's surroundings, which develops over time into consciousness, the implications are far reaching, and would affect debates on relgion and the afterlife.
Comment icon #16 Posted by highdesert50 6 years ago
Interesting to read some of the comments; identify a threat and either flee or eliminate the threat. We make a conscious decision, as does an insect in the same situation.
Comment icon #17 Posted by .mantis 6 years ago
I hope that they always have awareness of their own frail mortality. It would make snuffing out their savagely foul lives that much more pleasing of an experience. hehe sure, enjoy it while you can i guess because once humans inevitably wipe ourselves out, insects will outlive them for millenia
Comment icon #18 Posted by theotherguy 6 years ago
hehe sure, enjoy it while you can i guess because once humans inevitably wipe ourselves out, insects will outlive them for millenia Said the mantis. You and your insect buddies are plotting against us, just waiting to evolve opposable thumbs, aren't you...
Comment icon #19 Posted by LV-426 6 years ago
Egocentric insects? Have they considered a career in politics?
Comment icon #20 Posted by .mantis 6 years ago
Said the mantis. You and your insect buddies are plotting against us, just waiting to evolve opposable thumbs, aren't you... uh oh he's onto us
Comment icon #21 Posted by Hawkin 6 years ago
Dinosaurs came and went. Humans came and maybe will go by the wayside. Maybe bugs will be next to evolve into a higher intelligence.
Comment icon #22 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
Dinosaurs came and went. Humans came and maybe will go by the wayside. Maybe bugs will be next to evolve into a higher intelligence.


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