All of Adam Shriver's Comments + Replies

Differences in the Intensity of Valenced Experience across Species

Jason, thanks for the response! I'd definitely be interested in talking more some time...I'm a bit of a novice on this forum so let me know the best way to set something up.

As a first pass at your questions, my chapter The Unpleasantness of Pain for Humans and Other Animals gets at some of them. 

I think for (1), it depends on how strongly you mean "comes apart."  If we just mean varying one dimension while the other stays constant, or varying one dimension more than the other, there are a huge number of instances where this occurs.  If, howe... (read more)

2Jason Schukraft2y
Great, this is fantastic, thanks! Clearly there is a lot more I need to think about! I just sent you a message to arrange a chat. For anyone following this exchange, I'll try to post some more thoughts on this topic after Adam and I have talked.
Differences in the Intensity of Valenced Experience across Species

Micheal,  the link between specific brain regions and encoding pain affect is pretty complicated and controversial, as mentioned  in the original article.  So I would first note that even if we don't know exactly what specific brain regions are doing, there's still a lot of evidence (including several lines of evidence  cited in the Price article you mention) for a sensory/affective dissociation.  

That said,  the brain regions most commonly linked to the affective dimension of pain are the anterior cingulate cortex (with some ... (read more)

Differences in the Intensity of Valenced Experience across Species

Since you mention pain several times, one pretty significant gap in this discussion is consideration of the dissociation between the sensory and affective components of pain experience.  The reported intensity of pain is correlated with the reported unpleasantness of pain, but the two components can be pushed in opposite directions (for example, reported  pain intensity can remain constant while pain unpleasantness is increased or decreased).  The affective component of pain is presumably what matters morally, and valance is definitionally p... (read more)

5Jason Schukraft2y
Hey Adam, Thanks for your comment! I agree that the distinction between the sensory and affective components of pain experience is an important one that merits more discussion. I briefly considered including such a discussion, but the report was already long and I was hoping to avoid adding another layer of complexity. My assumption was that, while it’s possible for the two components to come apart, such dissociation is rare enough that we can safely ignore it at this level of abstraction. That could be a naïve assumption, though. Even if not, you’re right that by failing to take account of the different components, I’ve introduced an ambiguity into the report. When I refer to the intensity of pain, I intend to refer to the degree of felt badness of the experience (that is, the affective component). But the sensory component can also be said to be more or less intense, and some of the literature I cite either conflates the two components or refers to sensory intensity. I would be interested to hear more of your thoughts about the Yue article and related work. Suppose it’s true that gamma-band oscillations reliably track the sensory intensity of pain experience and that for our purposes the sensory component is morally irrelevant. If sensory intensity and affective intensity are correlated in humans, do you think it’s reasonable to assume that the components are correlated in other mammals? If so, then we can still use gamma-band oscillations as a rough proxy for the thing we care about, at least in animals neurologically similar to humans. Basically, my main questions are: (1) How often and under what conditions does sensory intensity come apart from affective intensity in humans? (2) How can we use what we know about the components coming apart in humans to predict how often and under what conditions sensory intensity and affective intensity come apart in nonhuman animals? If you’re interested, I’d love to schedule a call to talk further. This might be too big
Hi Adam, where are the right places to look for the affective component? I see the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) discussed in a few places, e.g. its relationship with pain on wiki page [] for the ACC. They cite Price, D. D. (2000). Psychological and neural mechanisms of the affective dimension of pain. Science, 288(5472), 1769-1772 [], and that article includes this figure for the neural pathway of pain: So they include the prefrontal cortex, too, for second order appraisals. They also point to (the posterior sector of) ACC area 24, specifically, in the text. It seems the ACC is involved in both social rejection and physical pain in humans [], and emotional contagion in mice [] (and spike counts in area 24 were correlated with intensity), too. Are there more specific regions or other regions we should look to that you're aware of?
Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness

This is super interesting...thanks Max!

I haven't read the books so I assume they deal with this there, but what about cases of blindsight, where people self-report that they don't see objects in certain parts of their visual field but nevertheless are able to respond above chance on forced choice tasks and even make appropriate grasping motions for objects in that area of the visual field? Wouldn't those, if true, be cases where we have maps of our surrounding environment that guide behaviour but nevertheless are not phenomenally conscious?... (read more)

I think he may be answering the question in terms of sensory pain rather than affective pain. I was mainly interested in affective pain, I probably should have specified that in the question. In terms of sensory pain it seems to me like his answer make sense and is right because it makes sense that more nociceptors would give you a richer and more complex sensory pain. But it doesn't make sense in terms of affective pain. I agree with Siebe that he is using 'suffering' in a nonstandard way. He seems to be using 'pain' to refer to 'acute pain" and 'suffering' to refer to 'long-lasting, non-acute pain.'
He seems to use the term suffering differently as well: the standard way is to define suffering as negative experience (perhaps above a certain threshold, so not to include dust specks in eyes). Pain that is experienced as bad, and thus morally wrong to create, is suffering.