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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;19:79-98. doi: 10.1007/7854_2014_278.

A framework for investigating animal consciousness.

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Philosophy Department, Pennsylvania State University, 244 Sparks Building, University Park, PA, 16802, USA,


An assessment of consciousness in nonverbal animals requires a framework for research that extends testing methods beyond subjective report. This chapter proposes a working definition of consciousness in terms of temporal representation that provides the critical link between internal phenomenology and external behavior and neural structure. Our claim is that consciousness represents the present moment as distinct from the past and the future in order to flexibly respond to stimuli. We discuss behavioral and neural evidence that indicates the capacity for both flexible response and temporal representation, and we illustrate these capacities in fish, a taxonomic group that challenges human intuitions about consciousness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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