1. The Problem of Consciousness
- The nature of subjective experience, or 'qualia'- our 'inner life' (Chalmers' "hard problem");
- Binding of spatially distributed brain activities into unitary objects in vision, and a coherent sense of self, or 'oneness';
- Transition from pre-conscious processes to consciousness itself;
- Non-computability, or the notion that consciousness involves a factor which is neither random, nor algorithmic, and that consciousness cannot be simulated (Penrose, 1989, 1994, 1997);
- Free will; and,
- Subjective time flow.
- Widespread apparent randomness at all levels of neural processes (is it really noise, or underlying levels of complexity?);
- Glial cells (which account for some 80% of brain);
- Dendritic-dendritic processing;
- Electrotonic gap junctions;
- Cytoplasmic/cytoskeletal activities; and,
- Living state (the brain is alive!)
- MT "kinks" travel at 15 microns (2000 tubulin subunits) per second. Vernon and Woolley (1995) Experimental Cell Research 220(2)482-494
- MTs vibrate (100-650 Hz) with nanometer displacement. Yagi, Kamimura, Kaniya (1994) Cell motility and the cytoskeleton 29:177-185
- MTs optically "shimmer" when metabolically active. Hunt and Stebbings (1994), Cell motility and the cytoskeleton 17:69-78
- Mechanical signals propogate through microtubules to cell nucleus; mechanism for MT regulation of gene expression. Maniotis, Chen and Ingber (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94:849-854
- Measured tubulin dipoles and MT conductivity suggest MTs are ferroelectric at physiological temperature (Tuszynski; Unger 1998)
|Electron quantum dots||10-6||10-3||103|
|Mass (m)||Time (T)|
|Beryllium ion||106 years|
|10-5 cm radius||Hours|
|10-4 cm radius||1/20 second|
|10-3 cm radius||10-3 seconds|
|Schrodinger's cat (m=1kg, a=10 cm)||10-37 seconds|
- By occurring as a self-organizing process in what is suggested to be a pan-experiential medium of fundamental spacetime geometry, objective reductions could account for the nature of subjective experience by accessing and selecting proto-conscious qualia.
- By virtue of involvement of unitary (entangled) quantum states during pre-conscious quantum computation and the unity of quantum information selected in each objective reduction, the issue of binding may be resolved.
- Regarding the transitions from pre-conscious processes to consciousness itself, the pre-conscious processes may equate to the quantum superposition/quantum computation phase, and consciousness itself to the actual (instantaneous) objective reduction events. Consciousness may then be seen as a sequence of discrete events (e.g. at 40 Hz).
- As Penrose objective reductions are proposed to be non-computable (reflecting influences from space-time geometry which are neither random, nor algorithmic) conscious choices and understanding may be similarly non-computable.
- Free will may be seen as a combination of deterministic pre-conscious processes acted on by a non-computable influence.
- Subjective time flow derives from a sequence of irreversible quantum state reductions.
- permanent dipole - permanent dipole,
- permanent dipole - induced dipole, and
- induced dipole - induced dipole (London dispersion forces)
- Capable of information processing and computation;
- Functionally important (e.g., regulating synapses);
- Tunable by input information (e.g., microtubule-associated protein orchestration);
- Periodic and crystal-like in structure (e.g., dipole lattice);
- Isolated (transiently) from environmental decoherence;
- Conformationally coupled to quantum events (e.g., London forces);
- Cylindrical wave-guide structure; and,
- Plasma-like charge layer coating.
- Quantum superposition/computation occur in microtubule automata within brain neurons and glia.;
- Tubulin subunits within microtubules act as qubits, switching between states on a nanosecond (10-9 sec) scale governed by quantum London forces in hydrophobic pockets;
- Tubulin qubits interact computationally by nonlocal quantum entanglement according to the Schrodinger equation;
- pre-conscious processing which continues until the threshold for objective reduction (OR) is reached by E = h/T;
- At that instant collapse, or OR occurs which is an actual event in fundamental space-time geometry. This event selects a particular configuration of Planck-scale experiential geometry, enacting a "moment of awareness," "occasion of experience" or conscious event.
- A sequence of OR events (e.g. at 40 Hz) provides a forward flow of subjective time and "stream" of consciousness;
- At the nanoscale each event determines new classical states of microtubule automata which regulate synaptic and other neural functions;
- During the pre-conscious quantum superposition/computation phase, oscillations are "tuned" and "orchestrated" by microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), providing a feedback loop between the biological system and the quantum state (hence Orch OR);
- Quantum states in microtubules may link to those in microtubules in other neurons and glia by tunneling through gap junctions, permitting extension of the quantum state throughout significant volumes of the brain.
|Buddhist "moment of awareness"||13 ms||4 x 1015 nucleons|
(4 x 1010 tubulins/cell ~ 40,000 neurons)
|"Coherent 40 Hz" oscillations"||25 ms||2 x 1015 nucleons|
(2 x 1010 tubulins/cell ~ 20,000 neurons)
|EEG alpha rhythm (8 to 12 Hz)||100 ms||5 x 1014 nucleons|
(5 x 109 tubulins/cell ~ 5000 neurons)
|Libet's sensory threshold (1979)||500ms||1014 nucleons|
(109 tubulins/cell ~ 1000 neurons)
- Sol-gel transitions;
- Plasma phase sleeves (Sackett);
- Quantum excitations/ordering of surrounding water (Jibu/Yasue/Hagan);
- Hydrophobic pockets;
- Hollow microtubule cores;
- Laser-like pumping, including environment (Frohlich, Conrad).
- Quantum error correcting codes
|The Cambrian explosion was a burst of evolution 540 million years ago. Organisms present at the Cambrian onset included small worms and urchins. Did consciousness (Orch OR) cause the Cambrian explosion?|
- Brain processes relevant to consciousness extend downward within neurons to the level of cytoskeletal microtubules.
- An explanation for conscious experience requires (in addition to neuroscience and psychology) a modern form of pan-protopsychism in which proto-conscious qualia are embedded in the basic level of reality, as described by modern physics.
- Roger Penrose's physics of objective reduction (OR) connects brain structures to fundamental reality, leading to the Penrose-Hameroff model of quantum computation with objective reduction in microtubules (orchestrated objective reduction: Orch OR).
- The Orch OR model is consistent with known neurophysiological processes, generates testable predictions, and is the type of fundamental, multi-level, interdisciplinary theory which may account for the mind's enigmatic features.