Do animals have consciousness?

What does increasing technology tell us about cognition in wildlife? ©John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS

What is the inner life of animals like? It can be a controversial question, but as technology advances, researchers are getting better pictures of what cognition means in wildlife. “We’re seeing evidence that the envelope of what animals can do is much bigger than we thought,” Stony Brook University ecologist Carl Safina recently told the New York Times. “That leads me to wonder: why, despite increasing evidence, do some people deny that animals have emotions or feel pain? A “MacArthur genius” grant winner, Safina has two books coming next spring on the culture of animals and the capabilities of dogs and wolves.

“We have tools today that didn’t exist 50 or even 10 years ago,” he says. “There are researchers putting dogs into MRI’s, and so it’s become possible to watch their brains do things. What we’re learning is that animals do have felt experiences and thus, I think, consciousness.”

Read his interview with the New York Times here.