Animals other than humans are capable of self-awareness, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick has found.
The study, published in the journal Current Zoology, found that animals such as rats and mice are capable of mentally simulating environments, which requires at least a primitive sense of self. The finding suggests that any animal that can simulate environments must have a form of self-awareness.
Often viewed as one of man’s defining characteristics, the study strongly suggests that self-awareness is not unique to mankind and is instead likely to be common among animals.
“The study answers a very old question: do animals have a sense of self?”, says Professor Thomas Hills, one of the study’s authors. “Our first aim was to understand the recent neural evidence that animals can project themselves into the future. What we wound up understanding is that, in order to do so, they must have a primal sense of self.”
Hills continues; “As such, humans must not be the only animal capable of self-awareness. Indeed, the answer we are led to is that anything, even robots, that can adaptively imagine themselves doing what they have not yet done, must be able to separate the knower from the known.”
The study, From foraging to autonoetic consciousness: The primal self as a consequence of embodied prospective foraging, can be found by clicking here.