Advances in Lobster Neuroscience
October 13, 2012 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Lobster neuroscience: What new findings about pain and nociception in crustaceans have been made since 2004?

David Foster Wallace wrote his famous essay on lobster welfare in 2004. What have we learned about crustacean pain since then? What do our best existing theories of consciousness suggest about the difference between pain and nociception in humans and animals? Are nociceptors really "pain receptors?" How sure are we, without treading too far into hard-core philosophy?

Here are some resources from a few years ago. Here is a notorious paper on pain in fish that lays out the "no pain without a neocortex" case.
posted by ecmendenhall to Science & Nature (3 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a link to a crayfish lab. They focus more on behavior than perception, but they may be of help. I wouldn't expect a detailed response from the primary investigator, but maybe send a short email to one of his graduate students, asking for an up-to-date review article or something.
posted by Nomyte at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2012

Here are a few relevant papers: "Nociception or pain in a decapod crustacean?" (Sorry, big 'ol paywall.) Also: "Pain experience in hermit crabs." (PDF.)

For a philosophical perspective on pain that might be qualitatively different from our own conceptions, consider the earlier (1978) work of David K. Lewis in "Mad Pain and Martian Pain." (PDF.)
posted by Hylas at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2012

If you've got journal access somewhere, there was a special issue of Animal Welfare earlier this year covering the start-of-the-art knowledge in … well, animal welfare. It included a fantastic paper by Elwood, "Evidence for pain in decapod crustaceans", which is fairly well summarised by the abstract and can be summed up as 'probably, yes, but we can't yet be sure - and the specific stimuli seem to be species-specific'.

Unfortunately I've only got a printed copy so can't easily pass it on, but a slightly earlier & more philosophical paper - "Pain and suffering in invertebrates?" - is available, and might be more what you're looking for.
posted by Pinback at 8:00 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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