when you see one ant, bee either fly that walks around, do not feel that by stepping on it or hitting it with the newspaper you will not be causing pain, since in a new item published in Proceedings of the Royal Society Bscientists at Queen Mary University of London argue that insects probably have central nervous control of nociception (detection of painful stimuli).
Such control is consistent with the existence of pain experience, with implications for insect culture, conservation, and treatment in the laboratory.
The modulation of nociception allows animals to optimize the chances of survival by adapting their behavior in different contexts.
In mammals, this is executed by neurons in the brain and is known as the top-down control of nociception.
Professor Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University of London delivered the study’s conclusions:
“Nociception is the detection of potentially or really harmful stimuli, which is mediated by specialized receptors: nociceptors. It may be accompanied by the sensation of pain, which is a negative subjective experience generated by the brain. Nociception and/or pain can be inhibited or facilitated (modulated) by descending neurons in the brain (including the brainstem in vertebrates) called descending pain controls,” he commented.
The presence of descending nociceptive controls in insects is important and interesting for many areas of insect and human neuroscience.
Top-down control of nociception in humans may also affect pain perception, so it is conceivable that a form of pain perception exists in insects, and may be similarly modulated.
“Therefore, examples of insects performing these kinds of behaviors may support the idea of pain in insects. For example, insects show reduced attraction to appetizing stimuli if they also have to experience nociceptive stimuli. Furthermore, recent evidence demonstrating cognitive abilities linked to sensitivity in some insects supports this idea, as well as studies indicating pain perception in other invertebrates. This is important morally, as insects are often subjected to potentially painful stimuli in research and agriculture,” the researchers said.