Dimensions of Animal Consciousness

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 24 (10):789-801 (2020)
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Abstract

How does consciousness vary across the animal kingdom? Are some animals ‘more conscious’ than others? This article presents a multidimensional framework for understanding interspecies variation in states of consciousness. The framework distinguishes five key dimensions of variation: perceptual richness, evaluative richness, integration at a time, integration across time, and self-consciousness. For each dimension, existing experiments that bear on it are reviewed and future experiments are suggested. By assessing a given species against each dimension, we can construct a consciousness profile for that species. On this framework, there is no single scale along which species can be ranked as more or less conscious. Rather, each species has its own distinctive consciousness profile.

Author Profiles

Nicola Clayton
University of Cambridge
Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics

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