The question of whether fish feel pain is muddied by anthropomorphic thinking. Comparing biological phenomena in two species should be informed by the criteria for good animal models: face validity, construct validity and predictive validity. Viewed through this lens, we argue that fish do feel pain and may possess some level of sentience. Evolutionary relatedness, hence similarities and differences between species (fish and humans in this case), are not about black vs. white but about shades of grey.

Author Biography

Loren Martin is assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience and Canada Research Chair in Translational Pain Research. His lab explores how chronic pain changes brain circuitry so that the circuits that encode pain relief can be identified. He has received early career recognition from both the Canadian Pain and American Pain Societies. Website

Robert Gerlai is professor of behavioral neuroscience and studies neurobiological and genetic mechanisms of behavior in fish and rodents. He is Fellow and past president of the IBNS. He received the Distinguished Scientist Award from IBANGS in 2013 and the University of Toronto Mississauga Excellence in Research Award in 2015. Website