Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)


Cognitive Science

First Advisor

Matthijs van der Meer


Consciousness is a loaded term and can mean many different things to different people. The goal of this paper is to investigate animal consciousness with an emphasis on rats. We investigated different ways of approaching the problem of animal consciousness including neuroscientific and philosophical methods. Next, we examined, a recent theory of animal consciousness in detail and examined neuroscientific evidence to support animals possessing the features described in the theory. The theory posited that consciousness includes five different components: perceptual richness, evaluative richness, self-consciousness, unity, and temporality. After, we discussed the phenomenon of “insight” and how it is similar and different to consciousness. Finally, we examined our behavioral experiment to support insight in rats. Our results revealed intriguing patterns in the rats' performance curves, suggesting potential moments of insight. Linear regression analyses provided further evidence of significant changes in learning capabilities following specific sessions. Rat 210 showed a notable increase in learning slope after the 11th session, while Rat 211 exhibited a similar pattern after the 5th session. Rat 212 displayed a potential moment of insight after the 19th session, although the statistical significance was less conclusive. These findings indicate the possibility of insightful problem-solving in rats and highlight the need for further research to confirm and better understand these moments of insight.