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mysterygirl

Fish could have emotions and consciousness, biologists find

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Fish could have emotions and conciousness, according to new research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences, which has for the first time observed in fish a phenomenon known as emotional fever – the increase in body temperature when subject to stress – which has been controversially linked to consciousness.

 

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, together with scientists from the universities of Stirling and Bristol (United Kingdom), observed an increase in body temperature of between two and four degrees in zebrafish, when these are subjected to stressful situations.

Until now emotional fever had been observed in mammals, birds and certain reptiles, but never in fish.

For this reason fish have been regarded as animals without emotions or consciousness, but the experiment, with 72 zebrafish, has brought this view into question.

The researchers divided the fish into two groups of 36 and they were placed in a large tank with different interconnected compartments with temperatures ranging from 18ºC to 35ºC.

 

The fish in one of these groups – the control group – were left undisturbed in the area where the temperature was at the level they prefer: 28ºC. The other group was subjected to a stressful situation: they were confined in a net inside the tank at 27ºC for 15 minutes. After this period the group was released. While the control fish mainly stayed in the compartments at around 28ºC, the fish subjected to stress tended to move towards the compartments with a higher temperature, increasing their body temperature by two to four degrees. The researchers point to this as proof that these fish were displaying emotional fever.

 

Scientists differ on the degree to which fish can have consciousness. Some researchers argue that they cannot have consciousness as their brain is simple, lacking a cerebral cortex, and they have little capacity for learning and memory, a very simple behavioural repertoire and no ability to experience suffering. Others contest this view, pointing out that, despite the small size of the fish brain, detailed morphological and behavioural analyses have highlighted homologies between some of their brain structures and those seen in other vertebrates, such as the hippocampus (linked to learning and spatial memory) and the amygdala (linked to emotions) of mammals.

In the words of Sonia Rey, of the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling and the UAB’s Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology (IBB), “these findings are very interesting: expressing emotional fever suggests for the first time that fish have some degree of consciousness”.

 

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Edited by mysterygirl

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:doh11: I just can't comment on modern science here. We goldfish owners know how smart and conscious our fish are. I'm not interested in proving it. 

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I think that we humans are very good at attributing our pets human emotions and behavior, because then we can relate to them and connect to them on a emotional level. Not saying that it is wrong or anything to do this - but we do this. Heck even I do this :) There is a very different behavior in my fish and if they are divided different than normal, they react differently. I do believe that they are different form each other, but it has much more to do with the environment that they were raised in.

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... and this is why zebrafish are used in psychological experiments all the time.

 

While fish may not be able to show emotion on a human level, they do seem capable of doing it in their own way. It is commonly said (and true) that dogs are capable of emoting. They do not emote in the exact way a human does, however they do emote in a way we can relate to. I think the comparison can be made.

 

Also, I am pretty new at this game, but I believe that people are so set in one type of brain working in one way or another, that we don't always take into account that nature can throw a huge curveball regarding how something is predicted to work vs. how it actually does. I would like to see this studied further, since it could open up a new world regarding brain function.

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I just wish they would define "consciousness." 

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I don't get how fish moving to warmer water means they were afraid....Any critter would naturally move to better conditions if given the option. 

 

Fish are smart, they recognize their owners, can be taught tricks, learn a schedule, etc. 

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There was a book that came out a couple years ago that did some very similar research. You guys may find it interesting to read. I enjoyed reading it. It's called "Do Fish Feel Pain" by Victoria Braithwaite: http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Feel-Pain-Victoria-Braithwaite/dp/0199551200

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I just wish they would define "consciousness." 

 

Shakaho, we could start an entire blog on that subject.  

 

I'd re-write our Declaration of Independance to say "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Consciousness"  (instead of happiness).   :whistle

 

Disclaimer: Philosophy Major    :rofl

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Whoops! Accidentally deleted my post!

Interesting study, but I think it confirms sentience as we already know. The problem is when it is extrapolated to personhood, but treating animals with respect and care as appropriate to their natural abilities and basic needs is absolutely essential. They're living creatures and not just biological machines void of value.

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