Often times we humans, with a hint of presumed superiority, believe that we are the only creatures on the face of the Earth to experience feelings and sensations in complex and profound ways. Yet it is not, and we realize it when we discover that even the most ” unsuspected ” animals are capable of having experiences similar to those we have.
Take octopuses, for example. The important study we are about to tell you about shed light on an unexpected and little-known aspect of their emotionality, namely the experience of pain . According to what has emerged, not only can these cephalopods experience pain on a physical level, but they also suffer emotionally . This is a previously unknown ability in invertebrates.
image credit: Piqsels
Everything is linked to the nervous system of these creatures, considered by researchers to be particularly complex from a neurological point of view. Until the publication of the results of this study, it was not known whether there were any invertebrates capable of experiencing physical and emotional pain. That’s why Robyn Crook, a neurobiologist at San Francisco State University, decided to look into the matter.
Laboratory work went on for years and recreated several painful situations for cephalopods using the same methods used for similar rodent experiments. The research was complex and detailed, but it produced unexpected results. Much like mammals, octopuses are capable of experiencing distress and suffering in the face of pain. These creatures, after suffering minor trauma from an injection , showed a preference for places where pain was relieved, instead avoiding places where they had the negative experience.
image credit: Snappygoat
“This is an extremely complex skill,” said Mr. Crook. “Relating a subjective feeling about the state of its body to a new context, then remembering that context and avoiding it afterward suggests that the octopus is aware of what it has been through and what it is experiencing. “. Quite remarkable, considering that this is a first for an invertebrate.
We can therefore say that octopuses have a brain and a nervous system much closer to those of small vertebrates such as reptiles or amphibians, than cephalopods. According to what emerges from American research, in fact, these creatures would also be able to localize the pain and to “differentiate” it according to the position where it is induced. “We wanted to measure the affective state of cephalopods in order to be able to evaluate analgesics and other interventions likely to promote the well-being of these animals, ” says the researcher.
image credit: Alfiero Brisotto/Flickr
And it looks like they’ve succeeded. A discovery of this type indeed opens up new perspectives on the way we behave with animals like octopuses and it is hoped, according to experts, that it will be able to promote behaviors adapted to their needs and their feelings. Definitely, from today we will be looking at octopuses with different eyes, we are sure!