4 years ago a declaration was signed
by a prominent group of scientists known as
The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness following their
conclusion that animals have conscious understanding, just as we do
and to the same degree.
This list includes all mammals and
birds, along with many other creatures.
I know that some of you may be thinking
this is self-evident - I mean, haven't we known this all along? -
but the vast majority of people clearly haven't reached this
The way we are currently treating
animals on a mass scale on this planet speaks to this
ignorance. Even though it seems like an obvious acknowledgment for
scientists to make, the implications of this statement could truly
change the world.
The fact that animals are sentient
beings can no longer be ignored.
Stated The Following...
On this day of July 7, 2012, a
prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists,
neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and
computational neuroscientists gathered at The University of
Cambridge to reassess the neurobiological substrates of
conscious experience and related behaviors in human and
While comparative research on this
topic is naturally hampered by the inability of non-human
animals, and often humans, to clearly and readily communicate
about their internal states, the following observations can be
of Consciousness research
is rapidly evolving.
Abundant new techniques and
strategies for human and non-human animal research have been
developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily
available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of
previously held preconceptions in this field.
Studies of non-human animals
have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with
conscious experience and perception can be selectively
facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact
necessary for those experiences.
Moreover, in humans, new
non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the
correlates of consciousness.
The neural substrates of
emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical
subcortical neural networks
aroused during affective states in humans are also
critically important for generating emotional behaviors in
animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions
generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both
humans and non-human animals.
Wherever in the brain one evokes
instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many
of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced
feeling states, including those internal states that are
rewarding and punishing.
Deep brain stimulation of these
systems in humans can also generate similar affective
states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in
subcortical regions where neural homologies abound.
Young human and non-human
animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind
Furthermore, neural circuits
supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of
attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have
arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation,
being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g.,
Birds appear to offer, in their
behavior, neurophysiology, and neuro-anatomy a striking case
of parallel evolution of consciousness.
Evidence of near human-like
levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed
in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional
networks and cognitive micro-circuitries appear to be far
more homologous than previously thought.
Moreover, certain species of
birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns
similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was
demonstrated in zebra finches, neuro-physiological patterns,
previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex.
Magpies in particular have been
shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great
apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror
In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be
associated with a disruption in cortical feed-forward and
Pharmacological interventions in
non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious
behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in
behavior in non-human animals.
In humans, there is evidence to
suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity,
which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical
or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness.
Evidence that human animal
emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain
networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily
shared primal affective
We declare the following,
"The absence of a
neocortex does not appear
to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states.
Convergent evidence indicates
that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical,
neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of
conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit
Consequently, the weight of
evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing
the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.
Non-human animals, including all
mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including
octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates."
Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was written by Philip Low
and edited by Jaak Panksepp, Diana Reiss, David Edelman, Bruno
Van Swinderen, Philip Low and Christof Koch.
Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7,
2012, at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness
in Human and non-Human Animals, at Churchill College, University
of Cambridge, by Low, Edelman and Koch.
Declaration was signed by the conference participants that very
evening, in the presence of Stephen Hawking, in the Balfour Room
at the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, UK. The signing ceremony was
memorialized by CBS 60 Minutes.
Other Evidence To
Support This Reevaluation
There is a lot of information readily
available to us that can fully support this declaration.
Take the hugely popular documentary
Blackfish, which told the story of the psychological damage
suffered by a whale who was kept in captivity for too long and the
way he defied and rebelled his captors.
There's also the
story of the pregnant pig that jumped off of a moving truck on
her way to the slaughterhouse.
And then of course there are the
countless animals that are held in captivity to be performers in the
circus - their very intelligence makes them ideal for learning so
many tricks - even though we all know that elephants and chimpanzees
are some of the most sentient animals of all.
KoKo the gorilla, for example, has a vast vocabulary and
communicates with us directly.
Other evidence has surfaced that shows
how intelligent even ocean dwelling octopi are. In fact they were
the only species of their type that were mentioned in this study.
If this declaration were to be taken
seriously by government officials and the citizens of the world, we
could have a world where no being had to suffer, be forced to do
tricks, or held in captivity, all for the sake of human pleasure -
the only reason we treat animals in this fashion in the first place.
What Can You Do?
If you agree with the scientists who
signed this declaration then you do not need to wait until new laws
are passed to help protect animals. You have the power to help
change these things right away, and it couldn't be simpler.
Stop supporting these industries that
are exploiting animals.
Don't buy factory farmed meat
and other animal products
Reduce your overall consumption
of animals products
Don't go to the circus
Don't go to the zoo
Don't buy products that have
been tested on animals
Spread the word and help raise
awareness about these important issues
It is important for us to recognize that
we do have a say in what is going on in the world around us, and
only until we believe it will we be able to effectively initiate