Author Website


Commentary Type

Invited Commentary


Andrew Crump, Heather Browning, Alex Schnell, Charlotte Burn, and Jonathan Birch, Sentience in decapod crustaceans: A general framework and review of the evidence


Evidence for sentience in animals distantly related to humans is often sought in observations of behavioral and neural responses to noxious stimuli that would be painful in humans. Most proposed criteria for painful sentience in “lower” animals such as decapod crustaceans have no necessary links to the affective (“suffering”) component of pain. The best evidence for painful affect in animals is learned aversion to stimuli associated with noxious experience, and conditioned preference for contexts associated with relief from aversive consequences of noxious experience, as expressed in voluntary behavior. Such evidence is currently lacking for any invertebrate except octopus.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Author Biography

Edgar T. Walters, Professor of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, investigates plasticity of neural and behavioral responses to bodily injury in molluscs (Aplysia and squid), cellular mechanisms of persistent pain induced by central or peripheral injury in rats, mice, and humans, and the evolution of pain-related mechanisms. Website