Ray-finned fish are often excluded from the group of non-human animals considered to have phenomenal consciousness. This is generally done on the grounds that the fish pallium lacks a sufficiently expansive gross parcellation, as well as even minimally sufficient neuronal organization, intrinsic connectivity, and reciprocal extrinsic connections with the thalamus to support the subjective experience of qualia. It is also argued that fish do not exhibit the level of behavioral flexibility indicative of consciousness. A review of neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioral studies is presented which leads to the conclusion that fish do have neurobiological correlates and behavioral flexibility of sufficient complexity to support the hypothesis that they are capable of phenomenal consciousness.

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.






Article Thread

Woodruff, Michael L. (2017) Consciousness in teleosts: There is something it feels like to be a fish. Animal Sentience 13(1)

Mikhalevich, Irina (2017) Consciousness, evidence, and moral standing. Animal Sentience 13(2)

Allen-Hermanson, Sean (2017) Battlefish contention. Animal Sentience 13(3)

Gutfreund, Yoram (2017) Animal sentience? Neuroscience has no answers. Animal Sentience 13(4)

Pereira, Alfredo, Jr. (2017) Sentience in living tissue. Animal Sentience 13(5)

LaFollette, Hugh (2017) Nagel-ing worries about fish sentience. Animal Sentience 13(6)

Husband, Scott A (2017) Of cortex and consciousness: “Phenomenal,” “access,” or otherwise. Animal Sentience 13(7)

Gerlai, Robert (2017) Learning, memory, cognition, and the question of sentience in fish. Animal Sentience 13(8)

Favela, Luis H. (2017) Mental representations are not necessary for fish consciousness. Animal Sentience 13(9)

Creson, Thomas (2017) Animal models, agendas and sentience. Animal Sentience 13(10)

Rey Planellas, Sonia (2017) The emotional brain of fish. Animal Sentience 13(11)

Burgos, José E. (2017) Fish sentience: A hypothesis worth pursuing. Animal Sentience 13(12)

Droege, Paula (2017) We still need a theory. Animal Sentience 13(13)

Stauffer, Jay R., Jr. (2017) Similar anatomy does not imply comparable function. Animal Sentience 13(14)

Taschereau-Dumouchel, Vincent; Grimaldi, Piercesare; and Lau, Hakwan (2017) Can unconscious brain processes indicate sentience?. Animal Sentience 13(15)

Woodruff, Michael L. (2018) Sentience in fishes: More on the evidence. Animal Sentience 13(16)

Gamez, David (2018) Fish consciousness. Animal Sentience 13(17)