Cambridge Statement on Animal Consciousness

On this day of July 7, 2012, a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists gathered at The University of Cambridge to reassess the neurobiological substrates of consciousness.”

 

“We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. 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. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

What does this declaration really say? Note, that little by little we are moving closer to a bubble-up model, the “neurological substrate,” which is farther and farther away from the cognitive modules and the trickle-down interpretation of complex adaptive behavior by which it’s said that animals derive meaning from experience. “Affective states” make someone feel energized or enervated, magnetized or electrified, weighted down or weightless, compressed or expansive. Why is the animal mind organized this way? Because affective states as facsimiles of energetic states are the easiest way to communicate and connect with others in an intelligent manner, i.e. in accord with how nature evolves. Affective states allow an individual to feel viscerally attuned and connected to the objects of attraction, this is how they interconnect. Thus I predict years from now a revised Cambridge report will come into accordance with the Constructal law and understand that an animal’s sense of self results from feelings of integration with its surroundings.

Published August 23, 2012 by Kevin Behan
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