Scientists Declare: Animals Are as Aware as Humans

Recently an international group of prominent scientists have signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. This declaration proclaims their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are. The list of animals includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus.

The group consisted of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists. They were all attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals. The declaration was signed in the presence of Stephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many others.

What is important here is the acknowledgement by the scientific community that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states. Because the body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, we can no longer ignore this fact when it comes to how we treat the animals in our world.

What has also been found is very interesting. It has been shown consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some encephalopods. The group of scientists have stated, “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 intentional behaviors.”

The following are the observations made that were the reason for the signing of this declaration:

The field 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 structures. In fact, 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 nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. 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 (octopus, etc.).

Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy 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 microcircuitries 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, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in articular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.

In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feed-forward and feedback processing. 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 and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

Responses to "Scientists sign declaration that animals share the same awareness with humans"

  1. About time :) Anyone that has any interaction with animals has observed their "awareness",but now it´s finally scientifically proved...

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am so glad that the scientific community has come to realize that animals do indeed have the same awareness states that humans possess.I am an animal lover, and have experienced their reactions in many situations. We share a consciousness with them and can interact with them without the use the spoken word. Hope to see more from you soon on this subject.

  3. Unknown says:

    TELL CONGRESS WERE NOT DONE! THey may have a killer whale hungry for red meat...WE have the PLANET AWAKE.. Parrots have been known to talk, as if initiated by thier owners thoughts. INDEPENDENTLY... I have the DVD. "When Animals TALK" Firm telepathic believer myself. So are some fully grown older adults.Im 31.

  4. penelope says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this... it is about time that that the world accepts that animals have awareness.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dogs recognize heart attacks and strokes. Plants recognize people who care and harm. Baby animals were taken to sea and killed. 500 miles away the mothers grieved. I could go on.It's about time for this change in perception.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's about time that scientists have become aware that animals have awareness. How ridiculously smug we humans are...

  7. We as humans should be the ones put on the animals list-someday, when we deserve it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is most exciting that scientists have finally given the thumbs up to somthing that many humans intuitively have known. There is no question that animals process their life experience and some can even dicern between humans using many processes.

    It is my hope that we will find a way to share this information, via school textbooks for starters, etc..

  9. WOW, are they serious? What a waste of time, of course animals aren't self aware, that's one of the main differences between us and them. A very vague article, I though the point of science was not to be vague.

  10. Martha Smith says:

    It's too bad it.took us so long!

  11. Patty Moore says:

    I love that this information is coming out to educate people on the humane treatment of animals. I hope invasive procedures that caused pain or distress were not used in the scientific studies. Sometimes the scientific world is extremely insensitive to the feelings of animals in the process of studying them...and BTW, Thaddius, have you ever LIVED with animals? I've lived with them, studied them, analyzed their behavior and I beg to differ with you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    @Thaddius - You seem incredibly certain that animals are not self-aware. I'm curious on what your assertion is based?

  13. Anonymous says:

    About time. For so long, science denied what anyone who cared or bothered to observe already knew…Humans are not the only animal to think and feel. Now science has finally caught up (unfortunately through research which involves pain, fear and death for the study subjects). Continuing to deny facts is and can only be the height of ignorance, arrogance and narcissism.
    Just because we do not live in and understand their world, does not mean that it doesn’t exist or have relevance.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for animals.....I would rather spend my time with animals than selfish humans. As a species, WE need to evolve in more compassion and understand that we are here to care for those that need us....Daisy's mom.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Any one who loves animals and pay attention to them already know this. You can see it in their body langauge and the way they look at you. I have had dogs and horses grieve for days over the lost of a baby.

  16. JMN says:

    It´s here_____the conference


  17. Anonymous says:

    My entomology prof made the comment that insects don't communicate with each other. He was taken aback when I asked how he knew.

  18. Shane says:

    Maybe it would be a good idea to post links to such claims. You know, for serious people that like to check sources.

  19. I would say my beautiful Dog more "aware" than Thaddius B. Ozark !!

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am an animal.

  21. Anonymous says:

    "Recently an international group of prominent scientists have signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. This declaration proclaims their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are. The list of animals includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus."
    – Oh, yea, octopuses are aware and have feelings! There was one in a glass tank at the oceanographic centre where I used to work. He was bored and probably hated his confinement. One day, I went to see him. He saw me, swam to the front of the tank and started climbing up it, putting two or three tentacles over the rim and hoisting his head over the side. He then squirted a jet of water at my face, and let himself sink again.

  22. Anonymous says:

    All of those aware cows... Oops ha

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am 36 years young and have respected my elders teachings all of my life. Growing up learning such rich common secne from my teachings has made me proud of how much respect I have grown to learn to have for everything, including the animals. My elders have always said respect them, they were here frist! They are our ancestors, teaching us through the shell of a spirit that looks like a animal. Each one has a spacific lesson in life to pass on, one no more important than the other. So be wise and respect what you dont understand for you can bring hazzard to yourself and your loved ones. Just as we are all a very valuable and brilliant individual so are they. One of the most valuable teachings to the human was taught by an animal, Survival of the fittest was taught to the human spirit from the animal spirit. I send out a prayer every day for mother earth and her animals and every First Nation tribe, as we have been gruesomely and continuously rapped and murdered at the bennifit of the Europan invaders. These people are the most selfish and ignorant people who have ever existed, whats worse thaey ahve mannages to teach this hazzardous way of living on to every generation that followed them in all of a short 200 years they have wiped out half the planet! Destroying it because they are LAZY. Turning our mother earth into a garbage dump for their mistakes :( it is so sad to have to sit back and accept this as we are now no longer the minority in OUR OWN HOME and will be murdered for trying to live our natural way of life, or just because they want something. It is high time to make a strong point and stand together and make our voice heard. We will no longer accept the murder and rapping of our lands. It is our duty to stand up for mother earth if these insane people are going to continue to act so selfish. WE MUST FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. Unfortunatly commonsense is hard to come by these days. respects - Louella Milburn, Snuneymuxw First Nations.

  24. Skye says:

    I love my wild friends.If they don't try and eat me I won't try and eat them. I taste like piss and vinegar anyways.

  25. Anonymous says:

    please share the reference for the publication, thank you soo much

  26. Anonymous says:

    this is great news....have shared on my facebook page....news like this is for the world to hear.... :-)

  27. Anonymous says:

    "The 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. The 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. The 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."

    Site for the Francis Crick Memorial Conference:

    Declaration itself:

    <5 minutes of googling, and way too many years in the making.

    anthropomorphosizing my $##^^& ... we ALL feel!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thaddius B. Ozark-- You obviously have not owned a dog or if you had, not spent much time observing them. Lookup tests done on animals such as dogs, chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants. With the use of mirrors they have proven they DO INDEED have self awareness, just like you. You're set apart from the rest of the animal kingdom like you think--- or perhaps wish.

  29. Diana duffy says:

    How many of us have known this for years?! Actually, in my observations I believe animals are more aware and more perceptive than most humans.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Animal compassionate human beings have known this all along! .. Animal rights before human rights for without animal rights there will never be human rights!

  31. At long last......What animal lovers and animal advocates have know since the beginning of time!!

  32. Linda says:

    Animals are Gods children also, they need to be protected and respected just as any human.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I'm pleased that some in the scientific community are finally beginning to understand consciousness. This area of research has always been considered "pseudo-science." IMO, the idea that we would have to wait for the "experts" to verify something people have always known seems absurd. Science has its limitations. Some things are real even if they can't be measured.

  34. Anonymous says:

    All anyone has to do is make eye contact with any animal to know this. They have awareness, intelligence, and souls.


  35. Anonymous says:

    scientists did their formalities

    we people knew it a long long time ago

  36. pilvikki says:

    wow... nothing like stating the obvious - and even proving it! i am constantly blown over by these "scientific" claims, such as "dophins perhaps can think", but we really need more studies.

    why spend a fortune on s. c. studies when you could just ask 10 random people on any street and get a more definitive answer?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Everything has a spirit. And there is nothing that is not communicating... It took so long to prove, because people refuse to believe their own eyes and ears and hearts. They refuse to believe anything, because scienece became the new GOD... Everyone could know how life works if people just started to trust their instincts again.

  38. Anonymous says:

    PS: Yes, and also the "European" has a heart. I feel ashamed for all the natives that cannot stop hating and blaming others. Really! Stop it!

  39. Anonymous says:

    That animals other than humans have consciousness has been known by many for a long time - actually for a very long geological time if you think it through. Our prehuman ancestors had consciousness and so did theirs. I am not impressed that it took such a long time for the scientific community to draw the conclusions from observations. Hunter-gatherers usually know this...
    What is now needed is brain studies to find out why so many animals of our species, like the Thaddius above, seem to lack consciousness...

  40. Anonymous says:

    Not only humans and animals and plants, but the Earth herself is very much aware of what is going on!!!! One day she is really going to backslap all of us for treating her so bad!!!!

  41. vegemama says:

    Of course they do. I think its sad that science has taken so long to realize this. Now if we could stop torturing them for our entertainment....that would be great. They have families and friends and dreams too you know.

  42. Of course animals are as aware as humans. I say even more so. They can sense things so much more than any mere human can on so many different levels and respond with emotion.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I grew up on a dairy farm and im not as too what degree i would agee that cows have awareness ive seen them be friendly, angery, scared, happy and sad, ive known some cows that will come up me of their own accord, put their against my arm and cry. I have also seen cows useing their horns as tools to move wires to get more feed.

  44. Anonymous says:

    a fer years back my brother and his girl friend and i were in hollywood, we were approached by a individual that asked us for a ride down the block (ya sure) we told him he had to ride in back of the truck with our large rottweiler , at that moment he growled and barked as if saying no and go away , the guy said hell no and left , lol it seemed like a very sketchy situation in the first place and our dog knew it also

  45. anthonie b says:

    How does he explain ants following the same route to food? There may not be vocal courts but body movement chemical trails are all a form of communication. I would demand my money back on that course

  46. anthonie b says:

    Vocal cords

  47. anthonie b says:

    I'm sure there is truth in the words you speak however to paint ALL europeans with the same brush seems to be an example of your lack of understanding of this article. My dog does not discriminate against a certain people or group of animals. It plays with cats and even tried playing with a rabit (rabit was not to happy). Hopefully at some point in time you will come to realize that discrimination is a human trait which "allows" us to hate and as a result murder.

  48. Unknown says:

    I have always known this, and I don't need some scientist to believe this. Some of us HAVE BEEN Awake for a long time!!!

  49. Have you ever heard a pig scream when they come to slaughter it? Well have you? Because if you have you know fucking well that it knows what they are doing - just like Daniel Pearlman knew what was about to be done to him.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I am grateful that people are starting to see what some of us have always seen....

  51. Anonymous says:

    <3 once again science has caught up with those of us (non-scientists) who have known this connection in our hearts forever. for me, all i ever needed to show cognizance was to look into a dog's eyes. include cows or any other animal you choose,,, as an open water diver i have had the privilege of being in the ocean with (free) dolphins,,, once experienced, one can never forget their interest and inquisitiveness as they swim up to you and hang with you, and look right into your eyes with awareness. their curiosity about us is as intense as ours is about them. please tell me that you can look at an orangutang or chimp or gorilla and NOT see their 'humanness',,, with humans as well as their own kind. i am so grateful that you scientists are finally getting it!!! :-)

  52. It's evident to me that most animals are MORE aware than humans! While we surely have remnants of their kind of sensing, it's being covered over by more & more layers of expectation, ambition, stress...
    We are losing touch with the lessons and practice afforded by Nature. Wild animals, not so.

  53. I thank my professor of behavioral science for not using live animals. He used computer generated animals for experimentation. He also believed animals were conscious and were terrified when experimented on just like we would be.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Of course - it's humans who have made the assumption that they aren't aware - how do we know? Animals are more aware, DOGS - sharper smell - sharper ears. Don't try telling me they just have these heightened senses for nothing. The main thing is to survive, all animals are aware of their abilities and use them to survive.

  55. Anonymous says:

    i live only with my dog, no television, no computer. we communicate without making a sound. my dog knows if i don't feel well, or if i'm stressed, or excited. she has more reactions than most humans i know.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Animals use their instincts more than humans their senses are far more sensitive than ours

  57. Anonymous says:

    the conscious of animals in the wild is made absolutely clear when most of them avoid us like the plague they know we are dangerous to them how sensible are they

  58. Unknown says:

    Obviously the animals and us is the same! we are all animals, man to develop the technology because he was more vulnerable and less able to survive in the wild.
    But we are all susceptible live, we share the same breath of life, water and earth, all earthlings!

  59. Unknown says:

    To the one who was making racist comments about Europeans. Me, being a first generation German immigrant to Canada, more specifically Northern Alberta. I have never driven through or visited an Indian reserve and found a sign not riddled with bullets, or trash throne everywhere. I drove through a reserve in the Northwest territories and found fifty dead reindeer laying on the side of the road, with no sign of the animals being used for food or clothing. Plus they were all shot with .22 caliber rounds. And you dare say you people are the ones who still respect nature? Fore shame, a hundred thousand million curses on you, and you're "people".

  60. Unknown says:

    Its unconscionably what the states are letting people do.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Finally! I knew it was true! My dog seemed sad after our neighbor's dog died.

  62. Unknown says:

    Can please someone translate this text in german language? Would be very fine for sharing to my friends...

  63. Anonymous says:

    I have always been aware of the fact that Animals share the same conscious awareness that humans do as I have been around Animals and had pets all my life. I am so please that this has now been confirmed as a fact!

  64. Anonymous says:

    Well done, it's better very late than never

  65. Actually, I am told that my dogs know (sense) when I am approaching the garden gate long before I appear.On another level, it is well known that when honey bees return to their hive after a foraging expedition they communicate (by the 'Dance of the bees') to their fellows the location of sources of nectar, pollen etc.

  66. Lena says:

    I am an animal lover. Their love (especially dogs and cats too) are unconditional. We learn a lot with animals and their behavior sometimes are good example that humans should look at and learn from. God gave us animals to care for not maltreat them like some humans do. I am glad the right people came to findings that animals have conscieness. They should teach them at schools as children should learn to respect animals and love them.

  67. Would have been really most effective if there had been some biologists in the study. The results would have been more accurate and meaningful as they are the actual experts on animals, animal behaviour, communication and cognizance. Because medics and psychologists come in with such a built in bias, their work is infinitely less relevant.

  68. Unknown says:

    Animals have consciousness, they have a sense of self, and their totally unique role here on their Planet! Anyone who deny it are deluding themselves! Wild Animals serve an important role on their Earth, Ocean, Environment and Sky! We as a specific species need to #Respect the Non Human forms, namely the Wildlife at all cost, they have a distinct value here! Bees �� especially also many other insects for example, if we poison them all, life will cease!!

  69. I've been an Animal Communicator for over 45 years and it's my experience that animals have a soul, are aware and willing to communicate their needs, desires, wishes to make their caregivers happy as well as themselves. I especially like working with dogs as they seem to have just one agenda: to serve humans with their whole heart and soul. All we have to do is be open...no judgment. It's experiential. When we stand IN the circle of life/nature with all sentient beings (not at the center of the circle of life as is the norm today) we understand that it is critical to respect them and their sacred and instinctive nature. Dressing dogs and treating them as if they were humans/babies is not their nature. Dressing them up and constantly carrying them is about the owner's needs, not theirs. "Let Dogs Be Dogs" by Monks of New Skete is a resource I highly recommend. Gigi, HealYourPetsLA@gmail.com

  70. Unknown says:

    I have always known this. I want all animals to be recognized as sentient beings so it looks like its going to happen. We have to get this information to the masses. I'm so glad the scientists are speaking the truth. Thanks so much for your informative article. I've shared it.

  71. Sands says:

    This seems like common sense but it is great to have some validation. What is derisively called anthropomorphism is actually based on science - of course animals think, feel, can suffer etc. All the more reason that those of us who do not need to for survival should leave animals and their secretions (dairy, egg) off their plates.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I sense that awareness permeates everything, so it is not surprising to read this, however, I think when it comes to an awareness of how consciousness manifests itself in a myriad of ways, one should appreciate it is individually distinct based on the complex differences in sense receptors among different lifeforms. Each, obviously does not share the same sense impressions of the world. Ie. An eagle has an entirely different consciousness of what it can see, beyond the limited human consciousness of sight. Same with a dog's infinitely greater sense of smell. This does not discount a shared awareness but rather an entirely unique difference of perceptions, thus, consciousness is uniquely individual among species all the while sharing awareness. We can learn a lot through cross-species relations and observations, sharing this awareness, yet sensing a uniquely different bandwidth of perceptions and in some cases not sensing things that other species take for granted. Humans do have a unique capacity to enhance their senses through technology so we may actually observe things further than eagles, things like distant stars etc. Still though, with all these varied consciousness fed by receptors, awareness, as it permeates the Universe certainly expands exponentially throughout time and space.

  73. Now let us follow this up with legislation to create a society where animals are treated with more respect and kindness!

  74. अहमात्मा गुडाकेश सर्वभूताशयस्थितः ।

    O Arjuna, I (the Universal Consciousness)am the Self abiding in the hearts of all beings. (Gita 10: 20)

  75. Anonymous says:

    I may add - they have even higher levels of consciousness. Good for science to catch up!

  76. laura says:

    I disagree, I believe animals are smarter, wiser, and more spiritual and have much higher morals.

  77. Unknown says:

    That is more of a reason to have factory farms outlawed. The billions of animals are being treated horribly in their life and they end up in a horrible death.

  78. Yes! This decision is hopefully one at the beginning of a chain that will result in an expansion of kindness toward animals, of people's learning how to communicate with other species with full respect and openness. We have much to learn.

  79. Anonymous says:

    I am glad that this has happened, but you know that The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was signed in 2012, yes?

  80. rebel says:

    Primates don't have " near human-like levels of consciousness"??

  81. In spite of research to the contrary, many species are still sadly underestimated. I can add the turtles of our cognition laboratory (active from 1979 to present), who continually surprise me. With our philosophy of fun, friendship, enrichment, and collaboration, they respond with demonstrated curiosity, invented ways to communicate, and enthusiastic learning. Mirror self-recognition? Yes. Sound production not part of wild behavior? Yes. Ability to draw by sliding the beak over vertically-mounted paper? Yes--and more. Our nonfiction book in progress tells their story: Diode's Experiment: A Box Turtle Investigates the Human World. www.chelonianconnection.blogspot.com

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