Research Topic

Sentience, Pain, and Anesthesia in Advanced Invertebrates

About this Research Topic

Cephalopod mollusks and decapod crustaceans are believed to the most developed and intelligent invertebrates and may be sentient animals. They are legally protected by a number of national and trans-national organizations, such as the European Union

In the proposed research topic we would start by attempting to define sen-tience/consciousness, probably in relation to what we understand in marine verte-brates, which may be very different from that in land-based forms. Given that many mol-lusks, including cephalopods, and crustaceans are model animals in neuroscience and species of interest for aquaculture, definitions and mechanisms of action of anes-thetics and analgesics acquire an added value for the project.

One of the features of sentient beings is that they feel pain, but this is largely a central nervous phenomenon, a consequence of nociception. Therefore the evolution of noci-ception in invertebrates and the presence of opioids in their nervous systems needs to be elaborated as a basis for considering the welfare of mollusks and crustaceans, par-ticularly under laboratory conditions.
This leads us on to the very difficult problem of how we assess pain in invertebrates – a withdrawal response to a noxious stimulus could be a simple reflex reaction in simpler animals, but at what point in the evolution of nervous systems does the subjective sensation of pain arise? This leads to further questions as to how should the more advanced invertebrates be anesthetized and should we use clinical general anesthetics on them? To understand more of this we need to comprehend the basis of clinical anesthesia and analgesia. We should then to consider the substances used as anesthetics in invertebrates and their suitability to the species involved, both crustaceans and mollusks.
Other questions also arise as to whether anesthetics and or analgesics affect learning and memory in mollusks and crustaceans and these issues are presumably related to consciousness, if present, in advanced invertebrates. One view of anesthesia in mammals is that its affects’ may be differentiated so that, loss of consciousness appears to be associated with the cerebral cortex, amnesia with the limbic system and immobility and analgesia with the spinal cord. Do equivalent divisions occur within the nervous systems of advanced invertebrates and if so with which parts of their nervous systems are they associated? Finally, if advanced invertebrates are conscious/sentient, then there must be numerous different neural systems with which consciousness is associated, so would this enlighten us on the general nature of consciousness? What sort of neural matrix is required for a creature to become sentient?


Keywords: Sentience, nociception/pain, anesthesia/analgesia, advanced invertebrates/consciousness


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Cephalopod mollusks and decapod crustaceans are believed to the most developed and intelligent invertebrates and may be sentient animals. They are legally protected by a number of national and trans-national organizations, such as the European Union

In the proposed research topic we would start by attempting to define sen-tience/consciousness, probably in relation to what we understand in marine verte-brates, which may be very different from that in land-based forms. Given that many mol-lusks, including cephalopods, and crustaceans are model animals in neuroscience and species of interest for aquaculture, definitions and mechanisms of action of anes-thetics and analgesics acquire an added value for the project.

One of the features of sentient beings is that they feel pain, but this is largely a central nervous phenomenon, a consequence of nociception. Therefore the evolution of noci-ception in invertebrates and the presence of opioids in their nervous systems needs to be elaborated as a basis for considering the welfare of mollusks and crustaceans, par-ticularly under laboratory conditions.
This leads us on to the very difficult problem of how we assess pain in invertebrates – a withdrawal response to a noxious stimulus could be a simple reflex reaction in simpler animals, but at what point in the evolution of nervous systems does the subjective sensation of pain arise? This leads to further questions as to how should the more advanced invertebrates be anesthetized and should we use clinical general anesthetics on them? To understand more of this we need to comprehend the basis of clinical anesthesia and analgesia. We should then to consider the substances used as anesthetics in invertebrates and their suitability to the species involved, both crustaceans and mollusks.
Other questions also arise as to whether anesthetics and or analgesics affect learning and memory in mollusks and crustaceans and these issues are presumably related to consciousness, if present, in advanced invertebrates. One view of anesthesia in mammals is that its affects’ may be differentiated so that, loss of consciousness appears to be associated with the cerebral cortex, amnesia with the limbic system and immobility and analgesia with the spinal cord. Do equivalent divisions occur within the nervous systems of advanced invertebrates and if so with which parts of their nervous systems are they associated? Finally, if advanced invertebrates are conscious/sentient, then there must be numerous different neural systems with which consciousness is associated, so would this enlighten us on the general nature of consciousness? What sort of neural matrix is required for a creature to become sentient?


Keywords: Sentience, nociception/pain, anesthesia/analgesia, advanced invertebrates/consciousness


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

25 September 2017 Manuscript
31 March 2018 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

25 September 2017 Manuscript
31 March 2018 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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