Earlier this month, some of the leading scientists from around the world congregated at the Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge to discuss the evidence that has amassed over the years. The experts reached a unanimous decision that animals – specifically mammals and birds – are in fact conscious beings. Through advancements in brain imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG machines, the scientists concluded that animals show a sufficient degree of characteristics that indicate they are not as non-human as some had believed. The official decision was reached late into the night after the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on July 7th.
Organized by Philip Low, CEO of NeuroVigil and inventor of the iBrain, the group consisted of 25 of the planet’s top minds on the mind, including honorary guest Stephen Hawking. The scientists discerned the key differences in human and animal brains, mainly found in the frontal cortex, do not play a role in the phenomenon we associate with consciousness. The decision does not in any sense define what consciousness is, which will be a debate that continues to rage on. But moving forward, there are many consequences to this finding that will need to be addressed as we look to develop a more humane relationship with animals.