Concept: Quantum mind
The nature of consciousness, the mechanism by which it occurs in the brain, and its ultimate place in the universe are unknown. We proposed in the mid 1990’s that consciousness depends on biologically ‘orchestrated’ coherent quantum processes in collections of microtubules within brain neurons, that these quantum processes correlate with, and regulate, neuronal synaptic and membrane activity, and that the continuous Schrödinger evolution of each such process terminates in accordance with the specific Diósi-Penrose (DP) scheme of ‘objective reduction’ (‘OR’) of the quantum state. This orchestrated OR activity (‘Orch OR’) is taken to result in moments of conscious awareness and/or choice. The DP form of OR is related to the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and space-time geometry, so Orch OR suggests that there is a connection between the brain’s biomolecular processes and the basic structure of the universe. Here we review Orch OR in light of criticisms and developments in quantum biology, neuroscience, physics and cosmology. We also introduce a novel suggestion of ‘beat frequencies’ of faster microtubule vibrations as a possible source of the observed electro-encephalographic (‘EEG’) correlates of consciousness. We conclude that consciousness plays an intrinsic role in the universe.
Consciousness is a multifaceted concept; its different aspects vary across species, vigilance states, or health conditions. While basal aspects of consciousness like perceptions and emotions are present in many states and species, higher-order aspects like reflective or volitional capabilities seem to be most pronounced in awake humans. Here we assess the experience of volition across different states of consciousness: 10 frequent lucid dreamers rated different aspects of volition according to the Volitional Components Questionnaire for phases of normal dreaming, lucid dreaming, and wakefulness. Overall, experienced volition was comparable for lucid dreaming and wakefulness, and rated significantly higher for both states compared to non-lucid dreaming. However, three subscales showed specific differences across states of consciousness: planning ability was most pronounced during wakefulness, intention enactment most pronounced during lucid dreaming, and self-determination most pronounced during both wakefulness and lucid dreaming. Our data confirm the multifaceted nature of consciousness: different higher-order aspects of consciousness are differentially expressed across different conscious states.
Life demands that we adapt our behaviour continuously in situations in which much of our incoming information is emotional and unrelated to our immediate behavioural goals. Such information is often processed without our consciousness. This poses an intriguing question of whether subconscious exposure to irrelevant emotional information (e.g. the surrounding social atmosphere) affects the way we learn. Here, we addressed this issue by examining whether the learning of cue-reward associations changes when an emotional facial expression is shown subconsciously or consciously prior to the presentation of a reward-predicting cue. We found that both subconscious (0.027 s and 0.033 s) and conscious (0.047 s) emotional signals increased the rate of learning, and this increase was smallest at the border of conscious duration (0.040 s). These data suggest not only that the subconscious and conscious processing of emotional signals enhances value-updating in cue-reward association learning, but also that the computational processes underlying the subconscious enhancement is at least partially dissociable from its conscious counterpart.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 6 years ago
According to recent evidence, stimulus-tuned neurons in the cerebral cortex exhibit reduced variability in firing rate across trials, after the onset of a stimulus. However, in order for a reduction in variability to be directly relevant to perception and behavior, it must be realized within trial-the pattern of activity must be relatively stable. Stability is characteristic of decision states in recurrent attractor networks, and its possible relevance to conscious perception has been suggested by theorists. However, it is difficult to measure on the within-trial time scales and broadly distributed spatial scales relevant to perception. We recorded simultaneous magneto- and electroencephalography (MEG and EEG) data while subjects observed threshold-level visual stimuli. Pattern-similarity analyses applied to the data from MEG gradiometers uncovered a pronounced decrease in variability across trials after stimulus onset, consistent with previous single-unit data. This was followed by a significant divergence in variability depending upon subjective report (seen/unseen), with seen trials exhibiting less variability. Applying the same analysis across time, within trial, we found that the latter effect coincided in time with a difference in the stability of the pattern of activity. Stability alone could be used to classify data from individual trials as “seen” or “unseen.” The same metric applied to EEG data from patients with disorders of consciousness exposed to auditory stimuli diverged parametrically according to clinically diagnosed level of consciousness. Differences in signal strength could not account for these results. Conscious perception may involve the transient stabilization of distributed cortical networks, corresponding to a global brain-scale decision.
The appearing of world is approached via the dream world which has generally been thought to be merely derivative: a “composition” of memory traces from waking life, which are merged and fused into a dream world that in some instances can be indiscernable from the world of waking life. Two dreams are presented which challenge the composition theory of dream formation. An alternative unified theory of world appearance in both waking and dreaming is proposed, which makes use of developments in quantum brain dynamics. For this “monadological” proposal the wake world and the dream world are ontologically at parity. This surprising conclusion extends the quantum revolution to our very Existenz.
While human hibernation would provide many advantages for medical applications and space exploration, the intrinsic risks of the procedure itself, as well as those involved if the procedure were to be misused, need to be assessed. Moreover, the distinctive brain state that is present during a hibernation-like state raises questions regarding the state of consciousness of the subject. Since, in animal studies, the cortical activity of this state differs from that of sleep, coma, or even general anesthesia, and resembles a sort of “slowed wakefulness”, it is uncertain whether residual consciousness may still be present. In this review, I will present a brief summary of the literature on hibernation and of the current state of the art in inducing a state of artificial hibernation (synthetic torpor); I will then focus on the brain changes that are observed during hibernation, on how these could modify the neural substrate of consciousness, and on the possible use of hibernation as a model for quantum biology. Finally, some ethical considerations on the use of synthetic torpor technology will be presented.
In this paper, we present some diverse points of view on the issue of the quantum brain.The paper is structured in the form of opening statements by each of the co-authors followed by comments and critique presented by the other co-authors. The main focus of the discussion is on the interplay between the state of being alive and consciousness, both of which possess characteristics of quantum physical states.
Commonly accepted models of human consciousness have substantial shortcomings, in the sense that they cannot account for the entire scope of human experiences. The goal of this article is to describe a model with higher explanatory power, by integrating ideas from psychology and quantum mechanics. In the first part, the need for a paradigm change will be justified by presenting three types of phenomena that challenge the materialistic view of consciousness. The second part is about proposing an alternative view of reality and mind-matter manifestation that is able to accommodate these phenomena. Finally, the ideas from the previous parts will be combined with the psychological concepts developed by Frederic W. H. Myers. The result is a more comprehensive model of human consciousness that offers a novel perspective on altered states of consciousness, genius, and mental health.
From neurophenomenological perspectives, schizophrenia has been conceptualized as “a disorder with heterogeneous manifestations that can be integrally understood to involve fundamental perturbations in consciousness”. While these theoretical constructs based on consciousness facilitate understanding the ‘gestalt’ of schizophrenia, systematic research to unravel translational implications of these models is warranted. To address this, one needs to begin with exploration of plausible biological underpinnings of “perturbed consciousness” in schizophrenia. In this context, an attractive proposition to understand the biology of consciousness is “the orchestrated object reduction (Orch-OR) theory” which invokes quantum processes in the microtubules of neurons. The Orch-OR model is particularly important for understanding schizophrenia especially due to the shared ‘scaffold’ of microtubules. The initial sections of this review focus on the compelling evidence to support the view that “schizophrenia is a disorder of consciousness” through critical summary of the studies that have demonstrated self-abnormalities, aberrant time perception as well as dysfunctional intentional binding in this disorder. Subsequently, these findings are linked with ‘Orch-OR theory’ through the research evidence for aberrant neural oscillations as well as microtubule abnormalities observed in schizophrenia. Further sections emphasize the applicability and translational implications of Orch-OR theory in the context of schizophrenia and elucidate the relevance of quantum biology to understand the origins of this puzzling disorder as “fundamental disturbances in consciousness”.
Alternative views of the nature of consciousness posit that awareness of an object is either an all-or-none phenomenon or that awareness can be partial, occurring independently for different levels of representation. The all-or-none hypothesis predicts that when one feature of an object is identified, all other features should be consciously accessible. The partial awareness hypothesis predicts that one feature may reach consciousness while others do not. These competing predictions were tested in two experiments that presented two targets within a central stream of letters. We used the attentional blink evoked by the first target to assess consciousness for two different features of the second target. The results provide evidence that there can be a severe impairment in conscious access to one feature even when another feature is accurately reported. This behavioral evidence supports the partial awareness hypothesis, showing that consciousness of different features of the same object can be dissociated.