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Pain in Fish : a review of the evidence

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Fisherman James D. Rose claims that fish can't feel pain. He has published a paper stating that the neocortex, the outer folded layer of the brain that is so highly developed in humans, is the seat of all higher mental functions, including consciousness of pain. Therefore, the neurological machinery required to feel pain is missing in a fish, and indeed, is present only in humans and apes. But, in focusing on a comparison of the human brain with the fish brain alone, Rose's article seems biased and anthropocentric. Rose did not give a reason for his assertion that consciousness depends, alone, on the neocortex. Nor did his argument take into account the straightforward evolution of the vertebrate brain. From fish to man, the brain has the same structures, arranged in the same way, with the exception only of the neocortex, which developed in mammals. Neurological studies have shown that the newly evolved neocortex of mammals took over certain higher functions, which were alrea…