More evidence that crabs feel pain, or …?

3 02 2013

Our journal club paper on Wednesday was a new JEB paper — Magee & Elwood 2013 (http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/3/353) — from Bob Elwood’s lab (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/People/ProfessorRWElwood/). Crabs very rapidly learnt to avoid one of two shelters in which they were shocked: a spatial discrimination they made in just a handful of trials (putting Carole and Agata’s mice to shame: 60 trials in, they seem too relaxed and happy to learn a thing). The authors were rightly very cautious about what such results mean: they didn’t boldly claim that this reveals that crabs feel pain (a good thing, given Jim Grau’s creepy and amazing work showing that the back end of a spinal rat can learn an instrumental response to avoid shock: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17099112). But we all felt that they spoiled the effect by resolutely avoiding saying what good evidence would actually look like….


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