Sep 202010
A giant grouper.
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A study suggests fish consciously experience discomfort

Many a seafood fan has parroted the popular idea that fish and crustaceans do not feel pain. New research, however, suggests that they may, revealing that their nervous system may be more complex than we thought—and our own awareness of pain may be much more evolutionarily ancient than suspected. [For more on pain, see the special section beginning here.]

Joseph Garner of Purdue University and his colleagues in Norway report that the way goldfish respond to pain shows that these animals do experience pain consciously, rather than simply reacting with a reflex—such as when a person recoils after stepping on a tack (jerking away before he or she is aware of the sensation).

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  One Response to “Underwater Suffering: Do Fish Feel Pain?”

  1. This may not be an appropriate comment, but if it is I would appreciate your views on this, written by an angler.

    The experience of pain depends on the functions of a complex, enlarged cerebral hemispheres. The functional activity of frontal lobe regions of the brain is closely tied to pain.

    These regions do not exist in fish. If the cerebral hemispheres in a mammal is destroyed, a comatose vegetative state results. If the same thing happens to a fish the fish’s behaviour is quite normal because the simple behaviours of which a fish is capable depend mainly on the brain stem and the spinal cord.

    A mammal’s existence is dominated by the cerebral hemispheres, but a fish is a brainstem-dominated organism.

    This proves, once and for all, that fish do not feel pain

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