The Brain, Unconsciousness and Death: A Critical Appraisal with Regard to Halal Meat Production

Muslims derive their dietary laws from the Quran (Islamic Holy Book) and other Islamic scriptures. These religious scriptures prohibit them from consuming meat from animals that die before they are bled-out. Some Muslim authorities have interpreted this to mean that, in addition to the animal being alive, it must also be conscious prior to neck-cutting. […]

Animal minds, cognitive ethology, and ethics

Our goal in this paper is to provide enough of an account of the origins of cognitive ethology and the controversy surrounding it to help ethicists to gauge for themselves how to balance skepticism and credulity about animal minds when communicating with scientists.We believe that ethicists’ argumentswould benefit from better understanding of the historical roots […]

Cognitive ethology, take three: Fascinating and frustrating questions about animal minds

Review of Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness by Donald R. Griffin

A user’s guide to animal welfare science

Here, I provide a guide for those new to the burgeoning field of animal welfare science as to what this comprehensive, relatively young discipline is all about. Drawing on all branches of biology, including behavioural ecology and neuroscience, the science of animal welfare asks three big questions: Are animals conscious? How can we assess good […]

D.G.M. Wood-Gush Memorial lecture: Why has there not been more progress in animal welfare research?

Four possible answers to the question of why there has not been more progress in animal welfare research are discussed: (1) that the subject matter might be beyond the scope of scientific enquiry; (2) that the commonly employed approaches and methodologies might be faulty; (3) that the approaches are sound but that more time is […]

Measuring emotional processes in animals: the utility of a cognitive approach

Contemporary researchers regard emotional states as multifaceted, comprising physiological, behavioural, cognitive and subjective components. Subjective, conscious experience of emotion can be inferred from linguistic report in humans, but is inaccessible to direct measurement in non-human animals. However, measurement of other components of emotion is possible, and a variety of methods exist for monitoring emotional processes […]

There are no known differences in brain mechanisms of consciousness between humans and other mammals

Recent scientific findings indicate that consciousness is a fundamental biological adaptation. The known brain correlates of consciousness appear to be ancient phylogenetically, going back at least to early mammals. In all mammals alertness and sensory consciousness are required for the goal-directed behaviors that make species survival and reproduction possible. In all mammals the anatomy, physiology, […]

Who Needs Consciousness?

Thinking about animal consciousness is beset with many pitfalls, a few of which are: i) lack of clarity in words used, especially confusing ‘cognition’ with ‘consciousness’ and using words such as ’emotion’ in both an objective sense (behaviour and physiology) and to imply consciousness; ii) failing to acknowledge sufficiently that different people use different versions […]

Behavioural and Neural Correlates of Mental Imagery in Sheep Using Face Recognition Paradigms

Determining objective measures for proof of consciousness in non-human animals has been helped by improved understanding of neural correlates of human consciousness. Functional imaging and neuropsychological studies have shown remarkable overlap between structures involved in actual perception of social and non-social objects and those involved in forming mental images of them. One area of particular […]

Quality of life and the evolution of the brain

The dual problem of explaining brain evolution and the way in which it has led to wide species differences in behaviour and physiology has often appeared intractable to scientists. The main limiting factor is that we do not understand enough about how brains work to appreciate why gross or fine morphological differences can lead to […]