Le jour où nous comprendrons que, chez les animaux, a pu se développer une pensée sans langage, alors nous mourrons de honte pour les avoir enfermés dans des zoos et pour les avoir humiliés.
Boris Cyrulnik, Ethologue
mercredi 12 septembre 2012
Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us
An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness
in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals
are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of
animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will
this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways?
While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many
nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it's the open acknowledgement
that's the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is
increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way
that we are, and it's no longer something we can ignore.
also very interesting about the declaration is the group's
acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are
very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different
evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some cephalopods.
absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from
experiencing affective states," they write, "Convergent evidence
indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical,
neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states
along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors."
say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating
that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates
that generate consciousness.
The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists,
neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists —
all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals.
The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and
included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward
Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.
The declaration made the following observations:
field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new
techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have
been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available,
and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held
preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown
that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and
perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess
whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in
humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the
correlates of consciousness.
The neural substrates of emotions
do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact,
subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans
are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in
animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates
corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human
animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional
behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are
consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal
states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these
systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems
associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where
neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without
neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural
circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of
attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in
evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in
insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).
to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a
striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near
human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed
in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and
cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than
previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found
to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including
REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological
patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies
in articular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans,
great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror
In humans, the effect of certain
hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical
feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in
non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in
humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human
animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is
correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible
contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual
awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings
arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling
evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.